Nielsen, News Corp. Bury Official Hatchet, 8-Year Deal May Flame Antitrust Suit
While terms of the News Corp. deal were not disclosed, speculation is that News Corp. extracted relatively favorable terms from Nielsen after a protracted battle that began with Nielsen's rollout of people meters in local markets and progressed through civil rights organizations and even Congress.
In that battle, News Corp. executives played the so-called "race card" in an effort to smear Nielsen's credibility in measuring minority viewers, especially African Americans and Latino Americans, propping up the Don't Count Us Out advocacy group and hiring high-level lobbying firms and PR consultants to put the heat on Nielsen - at first clandestinely, and then quite openly.
While Wednesday's announcement officiates the truce, the reality is that News Corp. and Nielsen buried the hatchet last sprint (MediaDailyNewsMay 3), months after the DCUO pressure group went dormant, and the two companies began working out their new agreement, including plans, ironically, for the roll out of new people meter markets.
"This agreement, which was more than a year in the making, affords us much greater efficiencies and simplicity in our relationship with Nielsen," said Gary Ginsberg, News Corporation's executive vice president of corporate affairs, in a statement released Wednesday. "Nielsen's willingness to take concrete and ongoing steps to ensure that its measurement systems accurately count all viewers was critical to achieving this deal."
As part of the deal, the 35 Fox-owned TV stations agreed to purchase Nielsen's local TV ratings, including all the local people meter markets, which were News Corp.'s main public grievance with Nielsen when it waged its war. However, Nielsen said that part of the agreement calls for Nielsen to invest "approximately $50 million in programs designed to enhance the response rates of participants in its samples, with special emphasis on younger demographics and communities of color."