FTC to Remain Out of Nielsen LPM Fray

Apr 6, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Trade Commission will not get involved in the battle over Nielsen Media Research’s Local People Meter service.

In a letter dated March 30 to members of Congress who had complained about LPM results and sought federal regulation, FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said a review by the agency’s staff showed no deceptive or unfair practices on Nielsen’s part. Therefore, Ms. Majoras wrote: “It would not be within the commission’s authority to impose quality standards for accuracy in audience measurement.”

“The commission determined clearly that the marketplace is working and there is no need for government regulation of TV ratings,” Nielsen said in a statement Wednesday. “Given this clear signal from the Federal Trade Commission, we believe the very small number of media companies who favor government regulation would do a real service to the TV industry if they’d drop their self-serving fight against Nielsen and work cooperatively with us and the [Media Rating Council].”

The latter reference is to the anti-Nielsen lobbying effort on Capitol Hill under the banner of Don’t Count Us Out, a coalition funded since last year by News Corp., which has complained that viewing by black and Hispanic viewers is being underrepresented in LPM markets.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by the FTC’s response,” Cynthia Jasso-Rotunno, executive director of Don’t Count Us Out, said in a statement. “We remain confident that working with our allies in Congress, as well as community leaders and representatives of the media industry, we can achieve meaningful oversight of this industry.”