FTC OK's Nielsen's Spin-Off of LinkMeter Tech To comScore

The Federal Trade Commission has approved Nielsen's plan to sell its LinkMeter cross-platform measurement service to comScore.

The FTC required the spin-off of the technology as part of Nielsen's purchase of Arbitron, saying that without it the combined companies would lessen competition for cross-platform measurement. The FTC wants the new buyer to become a legitimate competitor in cross-platform, so Nielsen must provide technical assistance and cannot prevent the third party from hiring "key" Arbitron employees.

Nielsen offered up comScore as the third party and, after seeking comment on that choice, the FTC has approved it.

Nielsen reached the settlement agreement for the overall deal with the FTC last September, contingent on the spinoff. Nielsen had agreed to acquire Arbitron for $1.3 billion.

Nielsen and Arbitron were both working on services to measure viewing on TV and online and the FTC concluded that putting them together would have given Nielsen the incentive and opportunity to charge advertisers, agencies and programmers more for those services.

Nielsen will divest some Arbitron cross-platform assets to comScore, provide some equipment and services to comScore, and license others for a period of at least eight years.

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.