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Power to the People Meter

Outspoken Rev. endorses new system

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Nielsen’s controversial new TV rating system gained an unlikely ally — the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Jackson endorsed the new measuring system known as local people meters despite months of claims by minority groups, a host of prominent lawmakers and a campaign funded by News Corp./Fox that it undercounts Latinos and African-Americans.

To the contrary, Jackson said.

“People Meter measurements,” he wrote in an open letter to the members of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, which he heads, “Prove that audiences of color — like other viewers — are shifting their allegiances from big broadcast channels like News Corp.’s Fox Television, to smaller channels and networks.”

Despite a steady drumbeat by several members of the Congressional Hispanic and black Caucuses claiming the meters need serious improvement, Jackson said plenty of “media leaders” are backing the system, such as BET topper Robert Johnson, Radio One’s Cathy Hughes and TV-One’s Johnathan Rodgers.

The protests did not prevent Nielsen from rolling out the new system in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago earlier this year.

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