Nielsen Forms Measurement Task Force

NEW YORK Fulfilling a commitment it made more than two months ago, Nielsen Media Research has appointed 11 members to serve on the Task Force on Television Measurement.

Nielsen made the appointments in consultation with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who spearheaded the compromise in early April, when Nielsen, which is owned by Adweek Magazines parent VNU, agreed to delay the launch of its local people meter service in New York from April 8 to June 3.

The mission of the task force will be to work with Nielsen to ensure that the company’s national and local samples represent the diverse TV audience, especially minorities.

Since April, the TV ratings firm has been under attack from Don’t Count Us Out, a coalition of African American and Hispanic groups supported by Fox Television, which claims that Nielsen’s local people meter service undercounts minorities. Although not connected with DCUO, a number of Nielsen’s biggest-paying broadcast clients, including Univision Communications, CBS and Tribune, also came out against Nielsen’s rollout of LPM until the service receives accreditation from the Media Rating Council, which recently voted not to accredit the LPM service in New York.

Nielsen plans to launch the LPM service July 8 in Los Angeles, Aug. 5 in Chicago and Oct. 7 in San Francisco.

Although Nielsen had a hand in naming the Task Force, a spokesperson for the TV ratings firm stressed that it will be independent, chaired by former Illinois Congresswoman Cardiss Collins.

“The principal role of the independent Task Force will be to strengthen the relationship between Nielsen and the industry and audiences it represents to enhance the quality of television ratings,” said Collins.

Other members of the Task Force are: Bob Barocci, president and CEO of The Advertising Research Foundation; Melody Spann-Cooper, president and general manager of WVON-AM in Chicago; Rev. James Deemus III, executive director of the NAACP in Chicago; Ray Durazo, chair of the Latin Business Association in Los Angeles; Mary Gonzales Koenig, president of the Spanish Coalition for Jobs, Inc.; Scott McDonald, senior vp for market research at Conde Nast Publications; Byron Lewis, chair and CEO of UniWorld Group; Guillermo Linares, former member of the New York City Council; Manuel Miraba, president of the National Puerto-Rican Coalition; and Elinor Tatum, publisher of The Amsterdam News.

The Task Force’s first meeting has yet to be scheduled.