CNN holds payments to Latino ratings firm

Net claims litany of faults

MIAMI — With CNN barely registering on Latino ratings charts, Turner Latin America has opted to play hardball with audience measure company Ibope, withholding payment until improvements are made.

Reciting a litany of faults in Ibope’s Argentine and Mexican pay TV services, Turner will instead pay its subscription fees into an escrow account.

David Woolfson, senior VP of global research for Turner Intl., said Monday the Brazil-based ratings agency not only uses samples deficient in size and quality but also is slow to respond to requests for better service.

Among Woolfson’s claims, Ibope undermeasures cable audiences by at least 10% in Argentina, under-samples upper-income Argentine homes (those that watch English-lingo nets the most) and reports data too infrequently.

“I think it’s unfortunate to resort to press releases about issues such as this, especially as we’ve set up a meeting with TAP (the Latino cablers’ association) to discuss all the issues in a couple of week,” said Teddy Reynolds, Ibope’s New York-based marketing director.

Jumped the gun?

But a researcher from another U.S. cabler said that while some of Woolfson’s criticisms are valid, Turner may have jumped the gun.

“Argentina has a ratings commission that was starting to listen to us, so to walk away from it at this point could be counterproductive,” the researcher said.

The source speculated that Turner’s move owed in part to embarrassment over low ratings for flagship CNN.

Indeed, July stats from Ibope show CNN en Espanol and CNN Intl. both taking a 0.02 household rating in Buenos Aires, to rank 60th and 61st, respectively, just behind rival newsnet CBS TeleNoticias.

Ibope has enjoyed a near-monopoly of regional ratings since buying out Nielsen’s Latino TV arm last year.

At the same time, cablers are coming under increasing pressure to grow their Latino ad revenues, as channel proliferation has caused license fees to tumble.

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