As FTC Reviews Nielsen/Arbitron Deal, MRC Accredits Eight Major PPM Markets

Media industry ratings watchdog the Media Rating Council this morning announced it has accredited Arbitron's portable people meter (PPM) ratings service in eight major markets. Normally, such an announcement might seem perfunctory, but coming as the Federal Trade Commission completes an intense antitrust review of Nielsen's proposed acquisition of Arbitron, which may come down to a consent decree involving what it does with the Arbitron’s PPM service, the accreditation takes on added meaning.

"Arbitron has clearly made progress in meeting MRC requirements, particularly in most of the larger PPM markets,” MRC Executive Director George Ivie stated in the announcement disclosing accreditation to eight new markets including Cleveland, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver-Boulder, Detroit, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood, Pittsburgh, Portland OR, and Nassau/Suffolk (Long Island).



The MRC said it was also continuing accreditation in eighteen previously accredited markets -- Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee-Racine, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Riverside-San Bernardino, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater -- bringing the PPM’s total accredited coverage to 26 markets.

“The MRC voted to not grant accreditation at this time in the remaining 22 PPM markets,” the council said.

While Nielsen executives have maintained that the FTC’s review of its proposed $1.26 billion acquisition of Arbitron is going smoothly and is on course, the FTC is currently conducting its second round of investigations and no final date has been set for its recommendations.

According to executives familiar with the review, it is likely that Nielsen will have to agree to some kind of consent decree assuring that the PPM will be available to other third parties to license.

Among the ad industry’s highest profile media research initiatives currently is a test of a “multi-platform” measurement system being developed by Arbitron and Nielsen rival comScore that is being sponsored by ESPN.
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