Nielsen to postpone (some) people meters

Nielsen to postpone (some) people meters.
Broadcasters can breathe a temporary sigh of relief as Nielsen announces they’re postponing the introduction of people meters in L.A. and Chicago. They’re going ahead with the New York market, despite complaints from local television stations that the meters grossly underreport television viewing. A MediaDailyNews article on the announcement quotes NewsCorp complaints that the meters “undercount viewing by as much as 25 percent, particularly among young and minority viewers.”

“Until Nielsen can prove the accuracy of its numbers, particularly in counting young and African-American viewers, we risk implementing a seriously flawed system,” Lachlan Murdoch, deputy COO of News Corp. and chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group, said late Monday in a statement following Nielsen’s announcement.

Citing issues that led to the delay of Nielsen’s rollout of people meters in the other major markets, Murdoch noted, “If the meter isn’t good enough for Los Angeles and Chicago yet, it certainly isn’t good enough for the nation’s largest market.”

Nielsen executives said the issues that led them to delay Los Angeles and Chicago were unique to those markets, and that they were confident the New York people meter sample is integral and would be ready for deployment on April 8, 2004, it’s originally scheduled date.

According to the report, Nielsen says Los Angeles has been especially difficult due to its ethnic mix, and that stations there are heavily resisting the meters.

Meanwhile, advertisers continue to press for more and better attention to the advertising pods within programming. It’s going to be a rough year ahead for the numbers counters at Nielsen.

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