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B’casters Uneasy Despite Nielsen Meeting

5/26/2005 10:02 AM Eastern

Forging ahead with next week’s deployment, Nielsen Media Research Thursday met with its clients in Washington, D.C., to discuss the looming rollout of “Local People Meters” in that DMA.

After the two-and-a-half-hour session, local broadcasters were still expressing concern about the accuracy of the new LPM system and still asking Nielsen to push back the June 2 launch.

“They insist on going forward,” said Jerald Fritz, Allbritton Communications Co.’s senior vice president for legal and strategic affairs. “It leaves us in a very precarious position … We’re faced with the reality of dealing with an unregulated monopoly.”

Nielsen is rolling out the LPMs in both Washington and Philadelphia next Thursday. There were about 100 people -- Nielsen clients, as well as employees -- at the meeting at The Westin Grand in Washington.

Allbritton -- which owns ABC affiliate WJLA and cable’s NewsChannel 8 -- Gannett Television, Fox Television and Tribune Broadcasting Co. are all vocally opposing the LPM launch in D.C., complaining about the high fault rates for minorities in the LPM sample.

Duffy Dyer, general manager for Fox’s WTTG, attended the meeting and was appreciative of Nielsen’s efforts to discuss the LPMs with clients like him.

“But at the end of the day, our concerns were not allayed,” he said. “It’s [the LPM system] just not ready.”

Nielsen told clients it was planning to address one of the TV stations’ major concerns -- high fault rates for minorities that are part of the LPM sample. The broadcasters want Nielsen to wait until it fully implements those plans before it deploys the LPMs.

Overall, Nielsen has said that fault rates for its LPM sample are lower than fault rates for its old metered-diary sample.

Fault rates among African Americans with LPMs in Washington were 11.6%, versus 16.8% for the metered-market sample, from April 25-May 22, according to Nielsen. For Hispanics, the LPM fault rate was 13.7% versus 17.4% for the metered-market. Total fault rates in D.C. were 8.1% for LPMs compared with 10.7% for the metered-market.

During the meeting, representatives from Comcast Corp., the major cable operator in Washington, along with ad-agency representatives and Spanish-language station WMDO voiced their desire for Nielsen to move ahead with the LPMs next week, according to Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus.

September