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SMART Decisions May Be Due This Month

5/16/1999 8:00 PM Eastern

The latest deadline to get the Systems for Measuring and
Reporting Television (SMART) national-ratings rollout rolling is May 31, sources said last
week.

Industry sources said Statistical Research Inc. seems to
want a resolution for its proposed alternative to Nielsen Media Research ratings by
Memorial Day.

SRI president Gale Metzger declined to confirm a deadline
for various broadcast and cable networks to give the researcher a yes-or-no answer on the
proposed national SMART rollout.

He would only say, "We are trying not to be
confrontational [about deadlines]. But time is money, and you can't make up lost
time."

There had been reports last fall that SRI had set a Jan. 1,
1999, deadline for prospective network clients to convert letters of intent into firm
commitments. SRI executives maintained that there had been no such deadline ultimatum.

As Metzger and others have said repeatedly in the past, SRI
would like commitments this year in order to start issuing SMART ratings reports at some
point in 2000 or 2001.

Metzger would not comment on a report published earlier
this month that SRI and Andersen Worldwide have begun making SMART presentations to ABC,
CBS, Discovery Networks U.S. and USA Networks Inc.

SRI executives had said in early March that they and
Andersen entered into negotiations about Andersen becoming an investor, but they have said
nothing further since that time.

"There are a lot of delicacies here," Metzger
said. "We're working diligently" on both fronts.

There was also some speculation that any ABC decision on
SMART would be delayed because Alan Wurtzel -- who was senior vice president of media
development, brand management and research at ABC -- joined rival NBC last week as
president of research and media development.

 

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