More Nets Say No to Nielsen


More cable networks Wednesday joined the rally to boycott Nielsen Media Research’s new commercial-ratings service, which plans to track the viewership of national TV ads.

The Comcast Programming Group, Lifetime Entertainment Services and Discovery Networks U.S. were the latest cable programmers to say they are “opting out,” or declining to participate -- at least initially -- in Nielsen’s effort to provide national commercial ratings.

Earlier this week, MTV Networks, Turner Broadcasting System, ESPN and NBC Universal’s cable networks -- which include USA Network, Sci Fi Channel and Bravo -- said they will not take part in the system, which will start delivering data Dec. 11.

Fox Cable Networks declined to comment Wednesday on what it will be doing, and Scripps Networks said it hadn’t made a decision.

Also Wednesday in New York, the Advertising Research Foundation held a forum on Nielsen’s commercial-ratings plans. There were presentations by Sara Erichson, Nielsen’s general manager of national services; CBS chief research officer David Poltrack; Ira Sussman, vice president of research for the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau; Glen Enoch, ESPN’s VP of research; and Jon Swallen, senior VP of research for TNS Media Intelligence.

Tim Brooks, Lifetime’s executive VP of research and chairman of the ARF’s video electronic-media council, said the ARF will not be taking a position on the commercial ratings. But he said at the session, “The prevailing sentiment was to do it right [commercial ratings] rather than to do it fast.”

The CAB has advised its members not to take part in Nielsen’s service until the cable industry’s concerns about the accuracy of its numbers are resolved.