Task Force Chair Decries Lack of Diversity at Senate Hearing

Jul 26, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Cardiss Collins, the former Democratic congresswoman from Illinois who chairs the Independent Task Force on Television Measurement, is not pleased with the lack of ethnic diversity among the six people invited to appear at Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee on the so-called FAIR Ratings Act.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., would give the industry watchdog Media Rating Council the power to enforce research standards.

“I find it hard to believe that the Senate would hold a hearing regarding fairness in ratings without receiving testimony from at least one person of color — especially since this legislation would negatively impact minority communities and is purportedly designed to protect them,” Ms. Collins said in a statement released Tuesday. “Clearly, this panel is not representative of the changing demographics of America.”

Ms. Collins and her task force, which includes 19 industry, community and business leaders, spent more than eight months evaluating Nielsen Media Research’s measurement of minority audiences and presented its findings and recommendations to Nielsen in March.

The recommendations dealt with subjects ranging from field operations and fault rates to corporate diversity and over-sampling of minorities in markets where Nielsen has launched the controversial Local People Meters. Complaints from well-organized critics about fault rates and undercounted viewing by blacks and Hispanics ultimately led to demands that new services be accredited before they are adopted.

Meanwhile, Nielsen President and CEO Susan Whiting said Tuesday in a client update on initiatives that it is having constructive “ongoing discussions” with the MRC “toward agreement on the proposed voluntary code of conduct” that the MRC has quietly proposed.

“We believe the code represents a valid approach to enhancing the MRC process,” Ms. Whiting said. “Assuming that the review of the code is completed and that the text of the code is agreed to by the vendors and measurement services, Nielsen intends to adopt the code.”