Following a series of problems with its TV coding system, Nielsen Media Research has written to US TV stations asking them to help ensure there are no future glitches. Nielsen has also sent them a ‘Guide to Encoder Best Practices’, which outlines the correct coding procedures.
The ratings giant claims that some of the recent problems have occured at the TV station level, because of technical problems within the stations’ encoding equipment. These malfunctions have resulted in three telecasts being understated for local TV stations in Boston, and overstated for the ESPN cable network.
Nielsen uses an A/P (active/passive) coding system, which is installed in sample homes to identify which stations and networks are being watched, by reading the unique identification codes inserted into the television signal at the distribution source. The firm says that A/P metering remains the ‘most accurate technology available for capturing all television viewing’, and says that around 73% of its local market metered panel homes currently use the system.
Nielsen stressed the need for ‘cooperation and active coding’ by stations, to ensure the A/P system works accurately. The letter concluded: ’While Nielsen wants to work with you to minimise any such occurrence at your station in the future, it is ultimately your responsibility to encode properly.’
Nielsen Media is online at www.nielsenmedia.com