Lobbying Firm Behind Don’t Count Us Out

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A political-lobbying firm has admitted that it helped to orchestrate an anti-Nielsen Media Research campaign at the behest of News Corp., prompting the ratings company Friday to challenge the “independence” of that purported “grassroots” drive.

Nielsen issued a press release lashing out against the posting on the Web site of the Glover Park Group (www.gloverparkgroup.com), a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm.

In its listing of case studies, Glover Park said News Corp. “turned to” it to devise a campaign to fight back against Nielsen’s controversial rollout of “Local People Meters” last year.

That effort included directing a campaign to disrupt Nielsen’s operations with calls and e-mails targeting its executives, “shutting down their corporate switchboard,” according to Glover Park’s Web site.

“GPG enlisted community activists and organizations across the country in the Don’t Count Us Out coalition,” according to the site. “The coalition launched a grassroots campaign, including public protests and rallies; television, radio and print ads were run in both affected markets and inside the Beltway … and a legislative strategy was implemented targeting key senators and congressmen.”

News Corp. said it has been open about the fact that it worked with Glover Park on its anti-LPM campaign, according to spokesman Andrew Butcher.

“There’s nothing new in that,” he said. “We’ve been quite upfront about giving financial and moral support to Don’t Count Us Out. We’ve made it very clear that we have given them support, but they’re quite independent.”

The coalition -- which is comprised of Hispanic and African-American groups -- also responded to Nielsen’s press release about Glover Park.

"Don't Count Us Out is a coalition of minority community leaders and grassroots activists concerned about the negative economic and social impact Nielsen's inaccurate ratings has on communities of color,” Gil Casellas, a member of Don’t Count Us Out, said in a prepared statement.

“We have always readily discussed the fact that we receive financial and logistical support from News Corp., and we are pleased to have News Corp. as an ally in this fight,” he added.

Casellas’ statement continued, “Our members have been fighting for issues of fairness and equality their whole lives, and a suggestion that their membership in DCUO is anything other than a continuation of that fight is outrageous and offensive. Nielsen is trying to change the topic from the plain fact that right now, Nielsen's monopoly ratings service is not fully accredited in any market in the United States except one. Nielsen should spend more time fixing its broken ratings system and less time slinging mud at community activists."

Officials at Glover Park couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Not only News Corp.’s Fox, but other broadcasters, such as Tribune Co., alleged that LPMs underrepresent the TV viewing of people of color.

In its press release, Nielsen noted that Glover Park doesn’t specify what incentives were used to “enlist” members to the Don’t Count Us Out coalition.

Nielsen has long accused News Corp. of playing the race card and orchestrating the ongoing anti-LPM campaign.

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