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Nielsen Gets US Radio Ratings Contracts

November 18 2008

Nielsen is moving into direct competition with Arbitron over US radio ratings: two major radio broadcasters today announced a switch to Nielsen Media's ratings service in a number of markets from Q3 of 2009. Arbitron has described the once-a-year Nielsen service as 'a step backward'.

The two are Cumulus Media Inc. and outspoken Arbitron critic Clear Channel Radio. Nielsen will operate its ratings system in fifty small and medium-sized markets, and Cumulus will use it in all 50, while Clear Channel will use it in seventeen. Both companies will continue to use Arbitron's service in many larger markets. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey called the announcement 'a great development for radio'.

Clear Channel CEO John Hogan says the company is 'delighted to have the choice to move to an improved audience measurement approach in these important markets' and that the Nielsen system offers 'greater accuracy, stronger accountability and full transparency.'

Nielsen's radio service will use its address-based sampling approach to recruit sample households, which it claims extends its reach into the 34% of households not covered by other sampling techniques. Nielsen also says it has made a 'significant investment' in oversampling and other means of targeting hard-to-reach groups like the young and minorities.

Responding to the news in a statement, Arbitron chief Steve Morris underlined the variety of commitments his company has already made to targeting hard-to-reach groups (see also here and here), and said: 'Once a year measurement is a step backward. Advertisers have told us that radio markets need more than a once-a-year survey in order for stations to maintain accountability and recapture revenue from out-of-home, Internet and online media.'

Arbitron has also committed to accelerating the development and roll out of electronic and online alternatives to the paper and pencil diary for all markets. Other broadcasters including CBS Radio and Salem Communications Corp. have given strong support to the PPM.

Web sites: www.arbitron.com , www.nielsen.com and www.ccbn.com .

All articles 2006-20 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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