Nielsen Makes New Cuts In Data Processing Facility, Systems Already Strained

At a time when Nielsen's data processing and ratings reporting capabilities appear to be more challenged then ever, the media research giant announced another round of layoffs in its main processing center in Oldsmar, FL. The layoffs, which affected 57 full-time employees, bring Nielsen's full-time staff count down to 1,250, according to a report published in Thursday's edition of the St. Petersburg Times. Over the past two-and-a-half years, Nielsen has reduced its Oldsmar workforce by nearly a third from 1,800 employees.

A Nielsen spokesman told the paper that about half the new round of job cuts were due to "efficiency reasons," while the other half was attributed to an offshore outsourcing deal Nielsen made a while ago with Tata Consultancy Services in India.

"It was part of an ongoing process to improve Nielsen's productivity, to respond to our shifting client needs and to preserve high value jobs in a difficult economy," the Nielsen spokesman told the paper.

Nielsen is the biggest employer in the Tampa Bay area town, and the cuts have been demoralizing the community. They also coincide with an increasing frequency of data processing problems, ratings reporting delays, and in some cases, lost ratings data altogether.

On Tuesday, a power outage in Oldsmar forced Nielsen to switch to back-up, diesel-powered generators, but not before the disruption set off a chain of events that "took us the better part of a day" to "retrieve and validate all data" for national and local ratings reports for the day, Nielsen said in a client communiqué this week.

A Nielsen spokesman confirmed for MediaDailyNews that no data was lost during the SNAFU, just delayed.

Some Nielsen clients feel there is more to the story, and that the increasing incidence of delays and data SNAFUs reflects the fact that Nielsen has overextended itself with new initiatives, including "three-screen," digital set-top, and a diversification into other media including radio and out-of-home, and that it is not keeping its eye on its primary business of producing and ensuring the quality of its TV currency ratings.

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