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Whiting Backs Meters

Nielsen Media Research CEO Susan Whiting is defending plans to install Local People Meters in New York and other major markets this year.

News Corp. has led a campaign to get Nielsen to drop plans to use the People Meters — which gauge Nielsen’s national sample — to measure viewing in major cities. News claims the local meters undercount black and Latino viewers.

“There is actually a very similar amount of viewing among African-Americans in our new People Meter sample [compared] to the old system,” Whiting countered at a Television Bureau of Advertising conference here last Thursday. “It’s not a decrease in viewing — it’s a change in the channels being viewed.”

Nielsen pushed back a New York People Meter rollout until June 3 from April 8, responding to political pressure.

Whiting said “the greatest shame” is the campaign has made it more difficult to enlist homes for the meter sample, which could have an impact on scheduled rollouts.

She said Nielsen would address any concerns raised by a task force formed by U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to address the People Meter debate. And she said Nielsen is still on schedule to launch Local People Meters in New York in June. Meters are scheduled for Los Angeles in July and Chicago in August.

Other media executives criticized Nielsen’s local people meter plans at another TVB panel session. They included Post-Newsweek Stations president Alan Frank, who called the LPM system “so flawed.” He said if Nielsen goes forward with the deployments, it should continue collecting diary data in order to allow for a comparison of the numbers.