Nielsen Media Research president Susan Whiting asked a gathering of clients in Florida this week to help lobby against government oversight of the TV-ratings system.
The controversy over Nielsen's Local People Meter roll-out prompted calls from some quarters, including Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), for some kind of federal oversight. At press time, Burns was still awaiting an answer from the Federal Trade Commission on whether Nielsen could fall under its purview.
Whiting attributed the push for federal regulation to "one client," a reference to Fox, which has helped finance the Don't Count Us Out coalition fight against the LPM's.
The coalition is concerned that the meters undercount minority viewing. Nielsen concedes there are fault-rate issues, but says it is working on them, but also says that the meters are better recording the flight of those viewers to other outlets, like cable.
"We think FTC or any government regulatory oversight is a bad idea--for all of us," said Whiting, "But we need your help in speaking out on this issue," she told the group, gathered for Nielsen's national client meeting.
Whiting also said that Nielsen is creating an Advertiser Advisory Council, comprising
representatives of top advertisers in major categories, that will meet twice a year and give clients input on strategic initiatives and client support.
Nielsen has also earmarked $2.5 million for an R&D fund to be co-managed with clients.