Nielsen’s ‘LPMs’ Have Jackson’s Support

In a big boost for Nielsen Media Research, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has given his endorsement to controversial “Local People Meters,” which have come under attack from African-American and Hispanic groups alike.

Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, in a letter to his membership released Tuesday, put his imprimatur on Nielsen’s LPMs, which have rolled out in several cities, including New York and Los Angeles.

“We agree with our media leaders Bob Johnson of BET [Black Entertainment Television], Cathy Hughes of Radio One [Inc.] and Johnathan Rodgers of TV One: People Meter measurements prove that audiences of color -- like viewers -- are shifting their allegiance from big broadcast channels like News Corp.’s Fox Television to smaller channels and networks,” Jackson wrote in his letter. “BET’s ratings, for example, more than doubled when measured by People Meters.”

In one of his remarks, Jackson alluded to Don’t Count Us Out, a coalition of African-American and Hispanic organizations that has opposed LPMs and has received financial backing from News Corp.

“Opponents of the People Meter technology end up safeguarding a handful of shows on major broadcast networks while overlooking a broad range of alternative channels that are attracting growing audiences,” Jackson wrote. “We all want to be counted, but the count must be fair, accurate, inclusive and as scientifically sound as possible.”

Don’t Count Us Out had charged that the Nielsen LPMs were undercounting minority audiences because some major broadcast shows were seeing their viewership among people of color drop with that technology.

But Nielsen, and African-American-targeted cable programmers like BET and TV One, said LPMs were just more accurately reflecting minority viewership to smaller outlets like theirs.

Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting said she welcomed Jackson’s endorsement.

“It means a great deal to us that Rev. Jackson is standing up for what is right and fair,” she said in a prepared statement.