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Nielsen Releases Audit Data

Nielsen Media Research has pledged to fix its "Local People Meter" ratings service, released details of problems cited by auditor Ernst & Young and asked the Media Ratings Council for a mid-August date for another shot at accreditation.

Citing press leaks and an aggressive "disinformation" campaign by its critics, Nielsen Thursday released details of the Media Ratings Council's concerns about Nielsen's New York Local People Meters. Nielsen is replacing hand-written diaries with the meters in major markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago this summer.

Nielsen says that the MRC withheld accreditation of the New York meters citing four issues:

"1. Cable TV information (15 of 602 homes audited were affect by cable rebuilds)
 2. Race identification (discrepancy in 2 homes out of 30 audited)
 3. Ethnic identification (discrepancy in 2 of 27 homes audited)
 4. Incomplete documentation (more complete disclosure in Nielsen's standard reports)."

What it did not say, Nielsen asserts, is anything about "undercounting persons of color," "flaws in People Meter technology," or "delaying the rollout." All of those issues have been raised by critics who are trying to block the rollout.

Calling sample problems part of the normal process of getting as accurate data as possible, Nielsen says it plans to 1. maintain what it says are improved fault rates (the percentage of homes with communications errors, unplugged meters or improperly used meters); 2. re-audit for race and ethnicity; review its collection procedures; and improve disclosure.