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CAB Gathers Cable’s Answer to Nielsen

The cable industry is gathering input and plans to give Nielsen Media Research its own recommendations regarding the tracking of viewership for TV commercials this fall, officials said Monday.

The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau is soliciting and collecting information from cable networks about their concerns regarding Nielsen’s plans to provide national average commercial-minute ratings starting in November.

The CAB’s Committee on National Cable Audience Measurement (CONCAM) has previously met with Nielsen to discuss the commercial ratings.

“Our members, each of the networks, are currently looking at all of the data and reporting back to their management on their own perspective,” CAB vice president of research Ira Sussman said. “The CAB is collecting and coordinating some of the overall concerns that the cable industry has regarding the announced tape [of commercial ratings], and it will be putting together some sort of response to help guide Nielsen as it goes forward.”

That report could go to Nielsen as soon as this week, but it could also take more time to complete, according to Sussman.

“It’s more dependent on getting it right, as opposed to getting it done immediately,” he added. “We as a group, as an industry, are talking, and we will be coming to some consensus as to what we’re looking for.”

Nielsen’s June 21 memo to announce its plan to start offering commercial ratings, at the request of the broadcast networks, took the cable industry by surprise. Nielsen said it is awaiting input and suggestions from all of its clients, including cable, which has already been voicing objections to the plan.

“There are some real issues with the data stream when you look at it across broadcast and cable, large-rated program and small-rated programs,” Sussman said. “We don’t know if this is even projectable, can people can really plan on it, yet the industry is moving forward as if it is. We’re looking at it. We’re not exactly sure what we’re producing.”