FTC Seeks Comment On Nielsen Spin-Off of LinkMeter to comScore

The Federal Trade Commission wants to hear from the public on Nielsen's proposal to sell its LinkMeter technology to comScore.

That divestiture was part of its deal with the FTC to be allowed to buy Arbitron, which the commission concluded would have otherwise lessened competition in cross-platform audience measurement.

Nielsen reached the agreement with the FTC last September, contingent on the spinoff. In December, Nielsen agreed to acquire Arbitron for $1.3 billion.

The FTC concluded the two should not team exclusively on a cross-platform ratings system because programmers and advertisers would likely have to pay more for the service than if the market was more competitive.

The consent decree required the combined companies to "to sell and license, for at least eight years, certain assets related to Arbitron’s cross-platform audience measurement services to an FTC-approved buyer."

Nielsen proposed making that third party buyer comScore, and the FTC now wants input before it decides whether to approve that divestiture.

Nielsen already had a comment ready.

“Nielsen and comScore have agreed to terms and other requirements in compliance with the terms set forth in the FTC Decision and Order dated September 20, 2013," the company said in a statement. "Nielsen’s agreement with the FTC was intended to preserve the competitive landscape in place prior to the acquisition by effectively enabling the continuation of a cross-platform project measuring media consumption across TV, radio, PCs, mobile devices and tablets, which was announced in Fall 2012 by then Arbitron, in concert with ESPN and comScore."

The FTC has given stakeholders until Feb. 24 to weigh in. Written comments can be sent to FTC Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580 or submitted electronically at here.

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.