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Viacom Questions Nielsen on Lower Nick Ratings


Movies Boost Viacom Fourth-Quarter Earnings

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said his company is working
with the Nielsen Co. to investigate a sudden mid-September drop in
Nickelodeon's ratings that Dauman called "inexplicable" and an "anomaly."

Speaking on Viacom's fourth-quarter earnings call with
analysts, Dauman says the double-digit drop in Nick's ratings just as toymakers
and other marketers are ramping up for the holiday season helped keep the company's
ad revenue under its double digit growth targets.

"This mid September, we have experienced an inexplicable
drop in Nickelodeon's ratings, which are historically very predictable," he
said. "We have had extensive discussions with Nielsen to determine the causes
of this anomaly and we have been working side by side with them to understand
and rectify the situation. The Media Rating Council, the industry's independent
auditing organization at our joint invitation is also investigating this
aberration in the kids' ratings."

Dauman said that in looking at Nick's ratings, they are
looking at independent set-top box ratings, which show "meaningfully different
viewership trends."

In a statement, Nielsen confirmed that it was working with Viacom and the MRC to assess Nickeodeons ratings. "To date, the review process confirms that our measurement methodology, operations and related reporting processes are working as expected," Nielsen said.

While the investigation is going on, Nickelodeon is
working to get ratings up by airing 50 new episodes of returning and new
series, including Kung Fu Panda, Legends
of Awesomeness