I just received word that Sunbeam Television Corp., owner of WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami, filed a complaint against Nielsen Media Research, Inc. in Florida federal court in Florida, seeking
"to restore competition in the market for TV ratings." Sunbeam also owns WHDH, an NBC affiliate, and WLDI, a CW affiliate, both located in the general proximity of the last great
Now, I could go off in all sorts of directions. One direction - the "where were you when erinMedia brought this up 3 years ago?" direction -- in particular, is a REALLY tempting one to follow.
But for now, I'm going to post a few tidbits of advice, in the hopes that Sunbeam owner Ed Ansin will pick up the phone and give me a call. I applaud his courage on the Leno skirmish, and this salvo only adds to my admiration.
I think we'd have a few things to talk about over lunch. My choice, your treat, Ed.
In advance of a five-course meal (and a case of Maalox for dessert), and drawn from my days as erinMedia's Chairman, CEO, and chef, here are some appetizers for the long lunch to follow. They might be a little hard to swallow at first, but trust me, Ed, you'll really need to try them all:
1) Understand the rules of the game. You are not competing in a free market, so throw away everything you think you know. Your friends are not your friends, and having the best mousetrap only means that you're next in line for lunch.
2) Repent -- admit you have been part of the problem. Every check you have ever paid to America's sole
billion-dollar, 100% monopolist has only served to keep them further entrenched. Stop the money flow. Immediately.
3) Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. This adage holds true from the Federal Reserve System, to federal government, to consolidated media, to single-source ratings. The numbers get smaller, but the pattern remains. Consolidate power -- or ratings -- in one location, and you will lose all you hold dear. Ratings are more than currency -- they represent truth. If you hunger for truth, separate the powerbase, and DEMAND competition -- ideally funded entirely by a monopoly who is excluded from the cash-cow portion of the industry.
4) There are no conspiracy theories -- there are only myths and facts. Pretend YOU were the king of ratings. How would YOU protect your domain? Who would be most rewarded with the best ratings? Who would you pay or reward to insure there would be no uprising? Are LPMs really ATMs? Answer these questions, and don't be surprised to see a pattern emerging.
5) Stop complaining about your ratings. Not only have you contributed to the continued abuses, but whining that your ratings suck will only backfire. If you are interested in nothing but better ratings, then you will get what you deserve: at best, a temporary respite through the ratings industry equivalent of gerrymandering, a redistricting via panel tweaking, that will only pass the bad ratings on to the next poor slob ready to sue.
6) Insist on competition -- and be prepared to pay in more ways than one. The source of the problem is the monopoly; the crappy, lagging technology (and the resulting lack of accuracy) are symptoms, not causes. If you AND YOUR BAND OF BROTHERS are not prepared to invest and commit to supporting true competition, then you aren't looking for a cure or remedy, you're looking for an opiate.
7) There must be a revolution. Ed, monopolies don't share. They don't play nice in the sandbox (especially if they believe it's THEIR sand, and they invented sand). And they can buy anybody they haven't already coerced, cajoled, corrupted, or canoodled. If all you want is better ratings, save the attorney fees. But if you want to help start a revolution, start building a war chest. And understand, there will never be competition as long as the monopoly breathes.