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DECISION 2000 / AMERICA WAITS

Poll Service May Lose Clients Over Election Errors

November 30, 2000|ELIZABETH JENSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — NBC News and Fox News Channel said separately that they are contemplating not renewing their contracts with Voter News Service, the network and Associated Press exit polling consortium that has been partly blamed for the bad vote projections by all TV networks on election night.

Member dissatisfaction isn't the only problem facing VNS; both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission have been asked to look into the polling organization.

VNS said it is conducting its own internal review and declined to comment. Network executives said consortium members are close to appointing outside experts to review VNS.

Fox, which said it is exploring other options, said renewal of its VNS contract depends on getting an adequate explanation about what went wrong. A Fox executive said VNS had not been forthcoming.

NBC said it will renew its VNS contract only when it is satisfied that VNS has taken the necessary steps "to ensure the accuracy and integrity of its data."

Members of the VNS consortium can opt out of their contracts during a two-month window beginning in January.

Other networks said they won't comment until internal reviews are completed.

The Los Angeles Times, which conducts its own national exit poll, buys some VNS data. Susan Pinkus, director of the Times Poll, praised the VNS track record but said the newspaper is waiting for full details of what happened before deciding on VNS use.

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