Task Force Eyes MRC Minority Representation

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A task force on TV measurement is asking the Media Rating Council -- which accredits ratings services on a voluntary basis -- to add representatives of minority-owned companies, advertisers and consumer groups to its fold.

The Independent Task Force on Television Measurement was created in April 2004, when there was a furor roaring over Nielsen Media Research’s rollout of “Local People Meters.” Critics charged that the meters were underrepresenting blacks and Hispanics, which Nielsen denied. The task force was created to study Nielsen’s methodology.

But this week, the task force issued a seven-page report making recommendations to the MRC about how it can better represent audiences of color. The suggestions included creating a sliding scale for membership dues so that smaller “minority-ethnic companies” can afford to join, and for consumer groups to have nonvoting seats on the MRC’s board.

Those suggestions were supported by Don’t Count Us Out, a coalition of African-American and Hispanic groups that opposes LPMs and is lobbying in support of pending legislation that calls for MRC accreditation to be mandatory for ratings services. But the group claimed that the issue of mandatory accreditation is still most important.

“More diverse voices are a positive step, but it will ultimately be irrelevant if those voices have no real power or authority,” Don’t Count Us Out executive director Cynthia Rotunno said in a prepared statement.

The MRC couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.