Nielsen Names Task Force

After being criticized for dragging its feet, Nielsen Media Research Tuesday appointed 11 community and TV-industry leaders from across the country to an independent task force on the measurement of TV viewership of people of color.

The panel -- which will be chaired by former Illinois Congresswoman Cardiss Collins -- was chosen in consultation with Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). The task force on TV measurement will work with Nielsen to help ensure that its national and local samples are representative of minorities.

In addition to Collins, the task force so far includes: Bob Barocci, president of the Advertising Research Foundation; Melody Spann-Cooper, president and general manager of WVON-AM in Chicago; the Rev. James Deemus III, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Chicago branch; Ray Durazo, chair of the Latin Business Association in Los Angeles; Mary Gonzales Koenig, president of the Spanish Coalition for Jobs; Scott McDonald, senior vice president for market research at Conde Nast Publications; Byron Lewis, CEO of UniWorld Group; former New York City Council member Guillermo Linares; Manuel Mirabel, president of the National Puerto-Rican Coalition; and Elinor Tatum, publisher of the Amsterdam News.

In the midst of a firestorm of controversy over its rollout of “Local People Meters” in New York, Nielsen announced in April that it would form a task force to study the issue, with Rangel’s help.

But there was some question about who should actually recruit that task force, and community leaders -- including several New York City councilmen last week -- criticized the ratings company for not having the task force in place, charging that it was just a public-relations ploy.

The task force includes representatives from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago -- all DMAs where Nielsen plans to launch LPMs this year. The New York rollout took place last week.

The task force will add several experts in demographic research, according to Nielsen.

Collins, as a former member of Congress, previously convened a task force that examined Nielsen’s impact on African-American TV producers and ad agencies.

In terms of her appointment to Rangel’s task force, Collins said, “It is critical that the ideas and perspectives of all citizens are fairly reflected in what they see on television. By bringing together some of the nation’s most respected leaders to work closely with Nielsen, we will be helping to ensure that all voices are heard.”

In a prepared statement, Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting said, “Congressman Rangel has chosen a team of eminently qualified individuals from throughout the country to serve on the independent task force on television measurement.”