Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) asked the Federal Trade Commission Thursday to step into the controversy over Nielsen Media Research and its “Local People Meters.”
Burns wrote to FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, asking her to look into whether existing laws give her regulatory body authority “to take action to ensure that the television-ratings industry is run fairly and in the best interest of the public.”
He said that if the current situation can’t be remedied “within the existing framework,” he plans to introduce legislation “that would mandate specific actions to create an oversight regime to more effectively safeguard the public interest.”
Burns convened a Senate subcommittee meeting in July on the LPMs, which broadcasters such as News Corp. and a variety of African-American and Hispanic groups alleged underrepresent minority audiences.
Nielsen, which defends the accuracy of its LPMs, has launched them this year in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In response to Burns’ letter, Nielsen voiced its opposition to any regulation of the TV-ratings business, saying it is “unwise.”
Nielsen added that it shared “Sen. Burns’ opposition to ‘heavy-handed government regulation of private enterprise,’” and that such regulation would “slow innovation at a time of rapid change in entertainment viewing.”