Nielsen Task Force Recommends 'Oversampling' Minorities
The long-awaited report was also released during the same day when many of Nielsen's biggest stakeholders were preoccupied with other matters taking place on Wednesday, specifically, the Association of National Advertisers' 2005 Television Advertising Forum in New York (see related coverage in today's edition).
It was also unclear who actually produced the report, which features a cover festooned with pictures of shiny happy people laughing on it, but its release did not appear to end the debate surrounding it. At the ANA conference, Viacom's Leslie Moonves said the company remains concerned about the impact the representation of African Americans in Nielsen's sample is having on ratings for UPN.
Meanwhile, News Corp.-backed pressure group Don't Count Us Out said it would continue to work with lawmakers and the Federal Trade Commission to seek government oversight over Nielsen's ratings methods.
In fact, the report does not stipulate how Nielsen might comply with the recommendations and it does not offer any timetable for doing so. In a statement, Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting said, "We are committed to working with our clients to implement these recommendations," adding, "Many of the recommendations by the task force will require support from our clients and agreement from the Media Rating Council which accredits audience measurement services such as Nielsen. We will work with our clients to obtain their support for these recommendations. We have an aggressive timetable for implementing these recommendations, and we need to move forward."
The task force concluded that while the people meter has the "potential" to more accurately measure "diverse viewing audiences than diaries," there were issues concerning Nielsen's local people meter samples and it made several recommendations to improve it, including "oversampling" minority viewers to ensure they are better represented in the sample. The notion of oversampling, however might not sit well with a number of Nielsen stakeholders, who might see that as just another form of skewing the sample and its results.
In an interview with The New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott, Nielsen's Whiting said such a change would require further discussion with clients and specialists.
Other recommendations included changes in Nielsen's recruiting procedures and its field force, as well as the formation of an "Independent Review Council, whose members would include leaders who represent diverse ethnic communities and minorities who have expertise in the media industry." The task force said the new council would work with Nielsen, the Media Rating Council and "other industry stakeholders to proactively seek out ways to ensure accurate representation and measurement of minority groups and provide a periodic progress report to the television community and the public at large about the representation of these groups in television ratings."