FAIR Ratings Act? Not So Say Ad Agencies

28 July 2005

As the US Senate Commerce Committee meets to weigh the pros and cons of the recently introduced FAIR Ratings Act which proposes new measures to regulate TV ratings services, leading agencies are loudly proclaiming their disapproval of the bill.

Under the Fairness, Accuracy, Inclusivity and Responsiveness legislation, authored this month by Senator Conrad Burns, the current system of voluntary accreditation of TV ratings systems would be replaced by a requirement for compulsory approval from the Media Rating Council.

But, according to the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the bill negates the principle of self-regulation so strongly advocated by the industry groups.

With most of its members opposing the legislation, the ANA also believes the bill "would slow the introduction of new technology and create barriers to entry for new ratings services and for new products within those services."

The bill was introduced in the belief that many ratings systems, such as Nielsen Media Research's controversial 'local people meters', are misrepresentative of black and Hispanic audiences.

Nielsen has been unable to receive full MRC accreditation for its LPMs in five out of seven markets. Its opposition to the Ratings Act is backed by Comcast, the Reverend Jesse Jackson of Rainbow Push Coalition and media companies such as TV One, while supporters of the Act include the National Association of Broadcasters, Fox Television and Tribune Broadcasting.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff