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Nielsen Addresses Undercounted KFOR

Nielsen officials will meet with KFOR Oklahoma City executives and their counterparts at parent Local TV next week in Oklahoma to address what appears to be substantial undercounting of KFOR viewers.

A significant number of viewers who watched KFOR on digital television were not counted by Nielsen, their viewership incorrectly sent to a “digital viewing bucket,” according to Nielsen. Those potential ratings points were erroneously assigned to KFOR’s channel 4.1 multicast.

“This situation resulted in lost credit for all tuning to the digital channel,” Nielsen said in a statement, “and understated audience estimates for every program on station KFOR.”

The incorrect tallying goes back to 2005, but Nielsen said KFOR’s digital viewing “was not at measurable levels until 2007.”

KFOR president and general manager Jim Boyer said the ratings looked fishy when he came on board in 2007. “I know how ratings generally behave,” he added. “These were not behaving the way they were supposed to.”

Local TV chief operating officer Pam Taylor said Nielsen has been forthcoming about the error, but acknowledged that undercounted ratings at KFOR hampered the station’s advertising revenue substantially.

The situation was fixed as of Sept. 5, and KFOR insiders said household ratings jumped 30%-50% after the fix. “The recompiled numbers are substantial,” Taylor said.

Nielsen said no other Oklahoma City stations were affected by the error, and a spokesperson could not recall something similar happening in other parts of the country.

In the competitive No. 46 DMA, KFOR is typically No. 1 or 2 in newscasts and ranks second in revenue, according to BIA Financial Network, behind Griffin Communications-owned KWTV.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.