Russell Simmons Supports Nielsen’s Use of People Meters in Local TV Markets

Nielsen Media Research today announced that Russell Simmons, Chairman & CEO of Rush Communications, one of the largest African American owned media companies, is supporting the Local People Meters (LPMs) as a more accurate and reliable way to measure diverse television audiences.

“Innovating television ratings is a process that should be encouraged and supported, and we think the marketplace is in the best position to judge its value,” Mr. Simmons wrote in an open letter to Susan Whiting, President & CEO of Nielsen Media Research. “To the extent there are opportunities to further enhance the People Meter system, we believe the responsibility ultimately rests with Nielsen, its clients and the communities they serve.”

Mr. Simmons joins Kweisi Mfume, President and CEO of the NAACP; Rev. Jesse Jackson, President of Rainbow/Push Coalition; Johnathan Rodgers of TV One; Debra Lee of BET; and many other community and industry leaders in supporting the introduction of local people meters.

Simmons cited the importance of innovation and new technology to measure demographically complex TV viewers. “By continually improving its audience samples and expanding the number of households of color, Nielsen is working hard to make certain that all viewers are fairly represented in its television ratings,” he continued.

Mr. Simmons also pointed out what he sees as motivation for some opposition to LPMs, stating, “It is not surprising that one giant media conglomerate — News Corp’s Fox TV — is displeased with their ratings and wants the government to legislate ratings services to protect their competitive position.”

Ms. Whiting welcomed Russell Simmons’ endorsement of Local People Meters, saying, “It’s heartening to us that someone like Russell Simmons, founder of the largest African American owned media conglomerate, understands the need for the LPM system in today’s ever-changing media environment and that he stands on the right side of this issue.”

People Meters have been used in Nielsen’s national TV audience samples since 1987 and have been accredited on an ongoing basis by the Media Rating Council. Local People Meters were introduced into Boston in 2002 and are being introduced this year into New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Related Story: Minority Group Protests Nielsen Ratings

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