Peace Treaty Signed in US Ratings Conflict

01 December 2004

A complex legal battle over US TV audience measurement meters, and their impact on ratings and advertising revenues, has at last been settled.

The dispute between Univision Communications and Nielsen Media Research centers on the researcher's use of people meters in the Los Angeles market.

Univision, America's biggest Spanish-language media firm and broadcaster, claimed the meter methodology would undercount viewers in Hispanic homes, leading to loss of ad revenue.

The electronic meter records who is watching which channel wherever and at whatever time.

Univision now says it will not oppose use of the meters, following reassurances and concesions by Nielsen.

Spokesman for the latter, Jack Loftus, says the people meters will not be changed; but the company has conceded minority viewers affirmative action, of sorts. If Nielsen examines data from a city and finds participation is down among, for example, young Hispanic males and white working women, Nielsen will add Hispanic households to its sample before other groups.

Data sourced from Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff