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Uh-Oh, This Can't Be Good: Nielsen's Measurements are the Currency of the TV Business. So Check This Out--the Media Rating Council Has Yanked Accreditation for Diary Markets, Effective LAST Year B&C

The "Media Rating Council (MRC) has pulled its accreditation of Nielsen measurement in its 154 diary-only markets, effective back to 2009."

So begins a must-read article in B&C.

This only affects smaller markets that don't have meters, the article notes.

Since it's Nielsen ratings, through both meters and diaries, that provide the currency of the business--meaning that ratings are a large determinate of advertising rates--"Some on the station side are concerned about how the lack of MRC accreditation would affect their sales efforts," the article says.

Though the MRC won't discuss the reasons for its move publicly, according to the story, "Insiders say the problem stems from Nielsen shifting its recruitment tactics in diary markets. With more of the population dropping their land lines for cellphones, Nielsen has opted for address-based recruiting of Nielsen homes in its diary markets, as opposed to the old method of selecting by phone number. The new method resulted in sample sizes coming up short in two of the four quarters in 2009. That prompted the MRC, according to station insiders, to pull its accreditation until Nielsen gets its sample issues in order."

At the same time, the article notes that the MRC doesn't have a problem with Nielsen going to  address-based sampling. So it appears that the problem is in the execution.

The story adds, "Nielsen says it has had the issue worked out since November 2009. Nielsen has requested a new MRC audit, and said in a letter to station clients that it expects to be accredited again soon."

For its part, the MRC told B&C that it "looks forward to continuing to work with Nielsen to be able to reinstate accreditation of the NSI-Diary-Only markets in the future," which sounds somewhat open as to any time frame.