New York -- Nielsen Media Research CEO Susan Whiting Thursday defended the company’s plans to install “Local People Meters” here and in other major markets this year.
Arguing that the LPMs underrepresent black and Latino viewers, News Corp. has led a campaign to get Nielsen to drop its plans to use LPMs -- which are used for Nielsen’s national sample -- to measure viewing in major cities.
“There is actually a very similar amount of viewing among African Americans in our new People Meter sample [compared] to the old system,” Whiting said at a Television Bureau of Advertising conference here. “It’s not a decrease in viewing -- it’s a change in the channels being viewed.”
Nielsen had planned to roll out the LPMs here April 8, but the company delayed the rollout until June 3, under pressure from politicians and groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Whiting said the campaign from News Corp. has made it more difficult to enlist homes for the LPM sample, which could have an impact on scheduled rollouts later this year.
“I think the greatest shame and the thing that everybody in the business should really pay attention to is that a publicity campaign like this certainly can have an impact upon people in the marketplace,” Whiting said.
“One of the things that concerns us most is when we go out to recruit people -- and we spend so much time and energy doing it -- is that they’re not going to want to participate because they’ve heard about this situation,” she added.
Whiting said Nielsen would address any concerns raised by a task force formed by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to address the LPM debate, but the firm is still on schedule to launch LPMs here in June.
LPMs are also set to roll out in Los Angeles in July and in Chicago in August.
Some media executives criticized Nielsen’s LPM plans on another TVB panel session Thursday afternoon.
Alan Frank, president of Post-Newsweek Stations, said the LPM system “is so flawed.”
He added that if Nielsen goes forward with the deployments, it should continue collecting diary data in order to allow for a comparison of the numbers.
And Fox Broadcasting Co. president of sales Jon Nesvig, whose company has led the campaign to quash LPMs, said print media should be held to the same standards. “Let’s hold other media by the same standards,” he added.