Nielsen Gets 'Conditional' Okay For L.A. Meters, Plans Update On Portable Meters

In a series of quiet moves, Nielsen Media Research has made important inroads - both local and portable --on its people meter ratings front. After months of debate and acute opposition from a Fox-backed pressure group, the Media Rating Council Monday granted "conditional accreditation" to Nielsen's local people meter service in Los Angeles. The MRC's stamp of approval is conditioned on a research improvement plan developed by Nielsen at the MRC's request, which is designed to address some of the methodological concerns the MRC has with the new local TV ratings system. Assuming Nielsen complies with the plan, the MRC is expected to grant full accreditation to the market later this year.

Meanwhile, Nielsen executives expect to receive a similar conditional accreditation for the controversial local people meter system in New York in the next several weeks, which would also be premised on fulfilling a research improvement plan. The MRC has just begun its fieldwork for an audit of Nielsen's local people meter system in Chicago, which went live Aug. 5.



Separately, Nielsen has invited a select group of its clients to a meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning to update them on some recent advances with the portable people meter. The meeting, which will be co-hosted by PPM developer Arbitron, will be the first to convene all sides of Nielsen's client base - broadcasters, cable networks and agencies - to discuss the PPM developments.

Nielsen intentionally is keeping that meeting low in profile and small in numbers and is said to have invited executives from only three ad agencies: Initiative Media, MediaVest and PHD.

"We tried to keep it small to make it a working session," said a Nielsen spokeswoman, noting that the meeting would focus on three key developments, including recent improvements in PPM response rates and "findings in engineering."

Meanwhile, the MRC's conditional accreditation comes in time for Nielsen to place the council's stamp on ratings reports being shipped this week for Los Angeles.

According to the research improvement plan, Nielsen will focus maintaining stable fault rates (the percentage of respondents that produce unusable data), ensuring that the language spoken in respondent households is accurately labeled, and shortening the timeframe used by Nielsen to contact households that are not regularly reporting data in the sample.

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