Task Force Takes Ratings Bill to Task

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Proposed legislation that calls for mandatory oversight of TV ratings has drawn another opponent: The Independent Task Force on Television Measurement.

The task force Wednesday urged the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Commerce Committee to nix bills that would require mandatory accreditation of TV ratings by the Media Rating Council.

The two bills -- introduced by Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) -- would make it difficult for Nielsen Media Research to introduce new and improved measurement systems, which better capture the viewing patterns of audiences of color, according to the task force.

“Under these bills, opportunities like this would disappear,” task force chairwoman Cardiss Collins said in her letters. “For example, the legislation would stop Nielsen from continuing to provide affordable local ratings to Spanish-language stations. That is because existing services like the Nielsen Hispanic Station Index -- whose samples are fairly small and combine data from other samples -- cannot be accredited by the Media Rating Council. If the bills become law, Nielsen would have to shut down these services and eliminate the only available ratings to these clients.”

Earlier this week a San Francisco-based Asian-language broadcaster, KTSF, voiced its opposition to the Burns bill.

The independent task force was created last year to evaluate Nielsen’s measurement of African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American audiences.

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