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After 12 Years Without Nielsen, Morris Network Stations Sign Up

After 12 years without Nielsen ratings, Morris Network said it has reached a long-term deal for local TV measurement with Nielsen for its stations in return-path-data plus markets.

Morris Network stations will also continue to get data under the group’s current agreement with  Comscore.

The deal is the latest in a tug-of-war for local ratings business between Nielsen and Comscore at a time when both measurement companies are conducting strategic reviews that could determine the future of their businesses.

“We are excited to be working with Nielsen again on local TV measurement,” said Bobby Berry, COO of Morris Network. “As a progressive and technology-driven media company, sophisticated and accurate data takes precedence and is a key driver in planning business strategy. Having Nielsen’s currency at our disposal to sell, steward and post buys with agencies will allow us to provide unprecedented value to our advertisers.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Morris Network, part of Morris Multimedia, operates 16 network affiliated stations, plus 10 digital affiliated stations. Among the stations covered by the new agreement are those in Chattanooga, Tenn.; Columbus-Tupelo, Miss.; Wilmington, N.C.; Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss; Lexington, Ky.; and Macon, Ga. In those markets, return-path-data from set-top boxes are used to make audience measurements more accurate.

“We are proud to again be working Morris Network,” said Catherine Herkovic, executive VP and managing director, Nielsen Local. “We are thrilled to empower Morris Network by providing true value to their advertisers and the communities that they serve, working in lockstep with them to maximize ROI by using our gold standard currency data. We’re enthusiastic about the possibilities that are ahead.”

Comscore, which has been struggling with quarterly losses and management turnover following the disclosure of issues with its accounting three years ago, had been adding local stations as ratings clients.

More recently Nielsen has been announcing that some of those clients have returned.

In July, SagamoreHill Broadcasting signed a new deal with Nielsen. The station group hadn’t gotten ratings from Nielsen since 2011.

Block Communications renewed its Nielsen deal in June. But it also signed up with Comscore for some of its stations in July.

In August, Irvington, N.Y., ad agency Lockard & Wechsler, a former long-time client, returned to the Nielsen fold