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February Sweeped Up In Digital Transition

With some disruption expected, the digital transition has already claimed a victim: the February 2009 sweep.

Nielsen Media Research is moving the period under which TV stations set advertising rates to March 2009 to sidestep “potential disruptions” tied to the Feb. 17, 2009 switch to digital.

The measurement company told its clients Wednesday that it is making the move to “ensure the accuracy of television audience estimates throughout the DTV transition period.”

Nielsen will continue to provide overnight ratings in metered markets as usual next February, anticipating no changes to national ratings reporting.

Cable could serve as a ratings surrogate.

"Since full-power analog signals will be going off the air, we may be able to connect our older analog monitoring sites to cable,” Nielsen said. “Cable systems will down-convert broadcast stations’ digital signals to analog after the transition."

To prepare for the transition, Nielsen will commence ratings collection data from a sampling of digital-only stations in December.