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Senate Panel to Probe New Nielsen Meters

June 26, 2004|From Reuters

A Senate subcommittee said Friday that it would probe the new technology for measuring television audiences by Nielsen Media Research next month.

The "local people meters," electronic devices designed to replace the handwritten diaries used for decades to record local viewing habits, have come under fire from some lawmakers, News Corp. and a coalition of civil rights activists who say it undercounts minority audiences.

The Senate communications subcommittee said it would hold a hearing on the issue July 15.

"Nielsen should cease the use of the new LPM system in New York and delay any further rollouts until they have committed to an independent review," said the panel's chairman, Sen. Conrad R. Burns (R-Mont.).

Nielsen, which is owned by Dutch conglomerate VNU, has said it has fixed or will soon correct flaws cited in a confidential audit of its new system for electronically measuring local TV audiences in New York.

The company has not received an invitation to attend the hearing. "We certainly look forward to an open and candid discussion of the issues," Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus said.

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