Nielsen Proceeds With Changeover

Sep 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Nielsen Media Research has begun dismantling its meter and diary sampling system used for years to produce TV ratings in the New York area, even though its new Local People Meter sampling system has still not won accreditation from the watchdog body charged with accrediting audience measurement services.

Nielsen began taking the old meters and diaries out of service Sept. 2. The LPM system has been running concurrently since June 3. Now the LPMs will be the “sole currency” for the largest TV marketplace in the country, Nielsen said in a Sept. 1 communique to clients.

The TV committee of the Media Rating Council met Aug. 26, when Nielsen presented information addressing issues raised in May about the accuracy and validity of the system, and whether it properly counts all minority groups. The MRC chose not to grant accreditation for Nielsen’s New York LPM sample at that time.

Because MRC members have been instructed not to talk to the press, it was unclear whether the TV committee on Aug. 26 voted not to grant conditional accreditation or voted to put off any vote related to the accreditation question. “To take no action is a telling action,” said one observer, who indicated that questions remain about such persistent issues as elevated default rates among certain subsamples.

Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus said, “We were informed by the executive director [George Ivie] of the MRC that no vote was taken, so we assume the accreditation process is continuing.”

In the meantime, the Nielsen homes from the old sample that were absorbed into the new sample of some 800 homes are expected to be folded into the national sample as scheduled Sept. 27. However, the new homes in the New York LPM sample will not be included in the national sample, pending movement on the accreditation question.

In last week’s client notification, Nielsen listed, but did not elaborate on, areas of “quality improvement” including the larger and more representative LPM sample, improved cooperation rates, and sample characteristics more in line with population estimates and improved fault rates.