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Minority orgs team up to fight Nielsen system

Meeting comes a week after court rejects Univision petition

Nearly 100 reps of minority group organizations led by the National Latino Media Council gathered at a town hall meeting Tuesday night to formulate a strategy against the People Meter, Nielsen Media Research’s controversial new television ratings system.

The meeting at the Ricardo Montalban Theater comes a week after a local court turned down Univision Television Group’s petition to delay the People Meter rollout in Los Angeles. Univision, the leading Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S., joins a groundswell of complaints against the new meter, which many contend will undercount minority viewers.

Nielsen’s audience estimates are used to set advertising rates.

According to NLMC head Alex Nogales, California State Assemblyman Jerome Horton plans to present a resolution that will call for the delay of the People Meter rollout until an independent review of the system determines its accuracy and fairness. He joins U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who have announced that the Senate Communications Subcommittee will hold hearings on the system July 15.

Nielsen has chosen to ignore the calls of lawmakers, community groups and industry leaders, Nogales contended. “They have been unresponsive and irresponsible, because they are a monopoly,” he said. Community groups led by the NLMC plan to contest the meter in all markets in which it is introduced by raising public awareness.

The change in the People Meter involves replacing paper diaries with the meters, which Nielsen has used since 1987 to gather national TV ratings. Nielsen contends the Local People Meters are more accurate than the diaries.

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