Nielsen Regroups Post-Charley

Aug 23, 2004  •  Post A Comment

There still was much heartbreak and devastation to cover, but for the TV industry, each day business was becoming more like usual last week in the Florida markets strafed by Hurricane Charley on Aug. 13.

The Nielsen Media Research sample, for example, was up and running Aug. 19 in Tampa.

A Nielsen spokeswoman said that in Orlando, some 287 homes were tabulated, but some 350 homes needed to be tabulated for data from the sample to be valid. In Fort Myers, about 200 of the necessary 340 homes were tabulated.

Still, the Nielsen spokeswoman maintained that the audience-measurement company was hopeful it might be able to produce ratings for clients over the weekend in Fort Myers and Orlando.

That would come as good news to stations that had not had data with which to wage the battles for bragging rights.

In Tampa, Nielsen recalled ratings it had “inadvertently released” for two days: the Friday when Charley hit Florida’s southern Gulf Coast and raced across the state and the day after, when Charley was heading north along the East Coast.

“Our yardstick is the phone calls from people thanking us,” said Bob Linger, VP and general manager of Fox-owned WTVT-TV.

“My biggest problem [during the storm watch] was sending people home,” said Elliott Wiser, general manager of Bay News 9, the local cable news network. “Now the difficulty is giving people some time off.”

Media General-owned WFLA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Tampa, had a disaster plan and “We executed the plan flawlessly,” said President and General Manager Eric Land.