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Nielsen Has 'Deep Rooted, Ongoing Performance Issues,' MRC Says

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The Media Rating Council, the watchdog that audits measurement companies, said that issues with Nielsen’s national ratings service could threaten its accreditation.

Nielsen, under fire for undercounting viewership during the pandemic, on Thursday requested that its accreditation process be put on “hiatus” status while it works on rebuilding its panels, which were impacted by COVID, and prepares its new Nielsen One ratings service.

Media Rating Council

The MRC noted that the request came just before a meeting of its television committee and that the MRC has not made a decision on whether or not to grant Nielsen’s request.

Also Read: VAB Asks MRC To Suspend Nielsen Ratings Accreditation

"In addition to those reasons for seeking a hiatus that Nielsen cited in its public statement on this matter, we are compelled to note that the National Television Service has also had some deep-rooted, ongoing performance issues that have threatened its accreditation, many of which pre-dated the well-documented COVID pandemic-related impacts to its panels,” said George Ivie, executive director and CEO of the MRC. 

“Because of the totality and the gravity of these issues, we believe the matter requires further consideration by the full MRC Board before a conclusion on the National Television Service’s accreditation status is reached,” Ivie said.

Also Read: Discovery’s David Zaslav Blasts 'Antiquated’ ‘Unreliable’ Nielsen

Ivie added that Nielsen had previously been invited to a meeting of the MRC Television Committee to address these matters, and that invitation is still in place.

In a statement, Nielsen said it has "followed the process and protocols for hiatus set forth by the Media Rating Council (MRC). We are meeting with them in the near future to determine the proper next steps and look forward to continuing this discussion and working alongside them for a beneficial outcome that serves the entire media industry."

The MRC noted that Nielsen will be making some significant methodology changes to its national panel processes.  

“MRC believes that regardless of its accreditation standing, Nielsen continues to have a responsibility to provide full transparency to both MRC and to Nielsen’s customers as these changes happen. In addition, the continued threat to panel processes presented by COVID-related impacts remains real, and Nielsen maintains a responsibility to keep MRC and its clients fully informed about any related process changes and impacts that may occur as a result,” the group said. 

Measurement companies accredited by the MRC are allowed to request an hiatus to allow them to implement certain service improvements. While on hiatus, the measurement service is not considered to be accredited. The hiatus can last six months, with an option for a second six-month hiatus. After those 12 months, accreditation is revoked if the measurement service doesn’t re-engage with the MRC process.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting + Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.