Nielsen, News Corp. Strike Eight-Year Deal

Nielsen Media Research and News Corp., once at war over local TV measurement, have reached an eight-year pact that consolidates more than 150 individual agreements between the companies, providing audience measurement for Rupert Murdoch's cable networks, TV stations, the Fox broadcast network and DirecTV Inc.

Financial terms of the landmark deal were not disclosed.

In 2004 and 2005, News Corp. and Nielsen engaged in a nasty public battle over the ratings service's rollout of new Local People Meter service. News Corp., along with a number of other broadcasters, a coalition of black and Hispanic groups called Don't Count Us Out — backed by News Corp. — and several minority organizations, charged that the new meters were undercounting viewers of color.

But News Corp. vice president of corporate affairs and communications Andrew Butcher last week said that the company and Nielsen have settled their LPM differences. As part of the new master agreement, Nielsen is investing about $50 million in programs designed to enhance the response rates of participants in its samples, with special emphasis on younger demographics and communities of color.

Under the new contract, Nielsen will provide News Corp. with local television audience estimates for 35 Fox-owned local television stations, including LPM service for Fox television stations in markets measured by the meters.

“This agreement, which was more than one year in the making, affords us much greater efficiencies and simplicity in our relationship with Nielsen,” News Corp. executive vice president of corporate affairs Gary Ginsberg said in a statement. “Nielsen's willingness to take concrete and ongoing steps to ensure that its measurement systems accurately count all viewers was critical to achieving this deal.”

All told, the agreement covers 49 entities, including Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Channel, FX, Speed Channel, National Geographic Channel, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports Net, Fox Sports en Español, DirecTV, Twentieth Television and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

However, News Corp.'s new comprehensive agreement with Nielsen does not include the controversial new service the measurement company is trying to set up — audience measurement for national commercials.

“In an era of digital television and multiple delivery platforms, we believe it makes sense for our clients to take an integrated approach for audience measurement,” Nielsen senior vice president for strategy and business development Dave Thomas said in a statement. “News Corp. has long been a valued Nielsen client, and we have worked tirelessly for months to craft a landmark agreement.”