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New York, NY–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – BUSINESS WIRE)–March 30, 2004–DON’T COUNT US OUT
— Resolution Calls Upon Nielsen to Halt Introduction of Local People Meters Until Sufficient Study Has Been Conducted to Ensure Fair and Accurate Counting of All New York City Viewers, Regardless of Race, Ethnicity, or National Background
— Nielsen’s Own Findings Confirm a Loss of 300,000 New York City Minority Viewers in 2000
Today, Hiram Monserrate, co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, and Council Speaker Gifford Miller were joined by members of the City Council to announce the introduction of a resolution calling on Nielsen Media Research to delay the introduction of Local People Meters (LPMs) in New York City until Nielsen can ensure the fair and accurate counting of New York City’s diverse viewers with this new system. Members of the City Council who are signing on to the resolution include Yvette Clarke, Joel Rivera, Leroy Comrie, Maria Baez, Melinda Katz, Robert Jackson, Lewis Fidler, Miguel Martinez, Alan Gerson, Tracy Boyland, Jose Serrano, Annabel Palma, Joseph Addabbo, Margarita Lopez and Erik Martin Dilan, among others.
“Our communities have struggled too long to be recognized and represented in the media and entertainment industries,” said Council Member Monserrate. “In a television market that is driven almost entirely by ratings, to disregard the ratings among families of color is to tell those families their preferences aren’t important.”
The resolution admonishes Nielsen for its failure to explain ratings discrepancies between its planned system and the current system being used today:
“Nielsen Media Research has not offered any satisfactory explanation for large discrepancies between ratings collected using LPM’s and ratings using the current system, which showed massive declines in viewership for top rated programs among African Americans, as well as Spanish-language networks”
“There is a subtle message here, and we’ve seen it far too often in this country; the undermining and infringement on democracy, ” said Speaker Gifford Miller. “Whether we are talking about the Census, the Florida debacle or other voting rights, something is intrinsically wrong when a whole group of people are undercounted and misrepresented, and it has to stop.”
“As the company with a monopoly on measuring TV audiences, Nielsen has a responsibility to accurately report its research so as to not hurt the success of any television show, especially minority-oriented programs.”
Despite overwhelming evidence that Local People Meters (LPMs) undercount African American and Latino viewers, Nielsen Media Research previously disclosed its plan to roll out LPMs in New York. During a sample test of New York City LPMs conducted by Nielsen in February 2004, top-rated programs among African American and Latino viewers experienced an unexplained drop in viewership by more than 60% compared to Nielsen’s current system.
“We have worked so hard and for so long to ensure that the programming offered in the media reflects the wonderful diversity of this City,” said Council Member Tracy Boyland. “Now, one monopoly company is risking it all because they refuse to put the public interest above corporate profits. This is a shame and an outrage.”
“Nielsen has admitted that they have problems counting African-American and Hispanic viewers. They admitted it in 2000 when they undercounted by 300,000 in New York City alone. And by postponing planned introductions in Los Angeles and Chicago, they are acknowledging that they still haven’t fixed their problems. They must halt this flawed rollout!” said Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera.
This systemic undercounting could lead to the cancellation of numerous programs geared toward African American and Latino viewers, as well as impacting negatively on Spanish-speaking programming, dealing a serious blow to efforts to encourage diversity in the industry as a whole. Due to these concerns, Nielsen has decided to delay the launch of LPMs in Los Angeles and Chicago. However, Nielsen’s planned use of LPMs in New York effective April 8th directly threatens minority-oriented television programming, employment opportunities for minority producers, directors, actors, writers, and related businesses including advertising and television production.
Council Member Monserrate drafted the resolution because Nielsen’s history of undercounting minorities has strained the company’s credibility on this vital issue:
DON’T COUNT US OUT – Speaker Miller, Councilman Monserrate, Council Members Announce Resolution Denouncing Nielsen Ratings System that Undercounts Black and Latino Viewers
— In 2000, Nielsen Officials Admitted To Undercounting 300,000 Hispanic Households in New York (New York Times, 7/17/00)
— Nielsen Sued By African American Television Producer For Inaccurate and Unreliable Ratings (Electronic Media, 5/6/01)
As it prepares to roll out its LPMs in New York City, the nation’s largest and most ethnically diverse TV market with more than 7.3 million TV homes, Nielsen Media Research has yet to undertake a study to determine the cause of its systemic flaws in accurately tracking minority viewing.
In their remarks and in the resolution, Council Members cited several troubling issues involving LPMs, and called on Nielsen to address them immediately:
— Nielsen Media Research has itself recognized the flaws in LPM’s as evidenced by its decision to delay the introduction of LPM’s in the Los Angeles and Chicago media markets for the stated reason that these markets are extremely diverse.
— The New York City media market is equally if not more diverse than any other media market in the country.
— Nielsen’s monopoly position obligates it to ensure that their rating system fairly and accurately records the viewing choices of all viewers regardless of race, ethnicity or national background.
— If this flawed technology goes forward and minority viewers are systematically undercounted, the consequences could be severe. Programming featuring minority entertainers could lose significant audience share and be cancelled. Advertisers will no longer see a need to target their messages to minority consumers. The economic, social and cultural impact could be enormous.
Members of the City Council called on all New Yorkers to get involved and to make their voices heard.
1) Call and/or write to Nielsen Media Research:
Ms. Susan Whiting
President and CEO
Nielsen Media Research
New York, New York 10003
2) Call the Federal Communications Commission at 888-CALL-FCC (225-5322)
3) Call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP (382-4357)
DON’T COUNT US OUT
Ebony Shears, 212-253-0266(o)
Nickie Jurado, 212-253-0266(o)