Coalition Protests Whiting Speech

"Local People Meter" opponents the Don't Count Us Out coalition staged a demonstration Wednesday during a speech by Nielsen Media Research president Susan Whiting to an African-American consumer-research group in Chicago. Nielsen is scheduled to roll out LPMs there Aug. 5.

According to the coalition, which claims the meters undercount minorities, "Busloads of community activists chanted and demonstrated with handmade signs, shouting 'Don't count us out!," outside the Chicago Wyndham Hotel where Whiting was speaking.

Responding to the protest, Nielsen said in a statement: "The Don't Count Us Out coalition continues to misinform the people of Chicago. Nielsen has made a major effort to ensure that African-Americans and Latinos are accurately represented in its ratings...In Chicago, African Americans represent 17.9% of the Nielsen sample, versus 17.5% of the general population, while Latinos represent 12.3% of the sample, compared to 12.4% of the overall population.

"We are willing to meet with any community leaders who have questions about our plans to introduce local people meters in Chicago and we look forward to a full discussion on this issue."

The July 8 Chicago roll-out of the Local People Meters is still a go, said a Nielsen spokesman. Whiting has also agreed to meet with coalition members one-on-one (handful-on-handful, actually), perhaps as early as Thursday.

It could be a short meeting. Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and principal spokesman for the Coalition, told B&C that pulling the plug on the New York meters, which were launched earlier this month, and delaying their rollout everywhere else until the Coalition's concerns are allayed, is nonnegotiable.

Nielsen spokesman Gary Holmes said that as "as far as Nielsen is concerned, there were no conditions put on the meeting."

Elsewhere on the People Meter front, one source said that the hearing on Univision's request for a preliminary injunction blocking the July 8 rollout of the meters in Los Angeles may be held Thursday.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.