Burns Wants FTC to Oversee TV Ratings Fairness

Oct 7, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., wants the Federal Trade Commission to “ensure that the television ratings industry is run fairly and in the best interest of the public” and has asked the FTC to see whether existing statutes give it that jurisdictional authority.

“If it is found that the present situation cannot be remedied within the existing framework, it is my intention to introduce legislation that would mandate specific actions to create an oversight regime” to monitor Nielsen Media Research and the watchdog Media Rating Council, Sen. Burns said in a letter sent today to FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras.

Sen. Burns chaired a July 15 Senate commerce subcommittee hearing into complaints about Nielsen’s rollout of its controversial Local People Meter service, despite lack of MRC accreditation, in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago this summer. The legislator also asked that the FTC “immediately begin consultations with the MRC and the [Federal Communications Commission] about the current controversy.”

Don’t Count Us Out, a coalition of LPM opponents that includes News Corp.-owned Fox and UPN stations, issued a statement praising Sen. Burns for having “taken a leadership role in holding Nielsen to account.”

Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus said, “There doesn’t seem to be any other demand to regulate the ratings industry. It’s just Fox trying to control the ratings.”