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ABC Ready to Change Ratings Game

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NEW YORK ABC sales president Mike Shaw said his department is ready to begin selling based on commercial ratings if any media agencies or advertisers want to start buying that way.

"We have the software and our system is in place," Shaw said. "We can sell show by show, daypart by daypart, whatever the client wants."

Nielsen Media Research, owned by Adweek parent VNU, will begin offering syndicated data on commercial ratings to the entire industry at the beginning of the new television season this fall. It is likely that commercial ratings, rather than program ratings, will become the currency on which media agencies make their upfront buys next May.

But Shaw said he can accommodate any buyer who wants to use the commercial ratings currency right now for scatter buys, even before Nielsen begins releasing the commercial data.

Shaw said shifting to commercial ratings will end the debate over which program ratings—live, live plus same day, or live plus seven day—should be used as the negotiating currency.

In the aftermath of the debate over which program ratings should have been used in the just completed broadcast upfront, Shaw said be believes the broadcast networks should create an association, much like the Television Bureau of Advertising, which represents TV stations, or the Syndicated Network Television Association, which represents the TV studios, that can serve as a forum for the discussion of such issues.

"This was not an ABC issue," Shaw said of the debate over which program rating currency to use. "This was an industry issue."