Gary Burns Questions Nielsen's Grouping Of Roanoke And Lynchburg As One Market
February 10, 2015 at 4:43 AM (PT)
3 DAUGHTERS MEDIA CEO GARY BURNS, long known for his strong opinions on ARBITRON failing, has now turned his attention on NIELSEN and its coverage of the ROANOKE-LYNCHBURG market in CENTRAL VIRGINIA, which he refers to as "a fake market."
BURNS penned a piece called, "Why You Can’T Rely On Nielsen Ratings For Radio In ROANOKE-LYNCHBURG," in which he writes, "According to NIELSEN, for the purpose of measuring radio listening, ROANOKE, LYNCHBURG and SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE is the same big city called ROANOKE-LYNCHBURG. How can they say this? Everyone knows that ROANOKE and LYNCHBURG are 60 miles apart. There is a mountain between them, they are in different telephone area codes, each has its own newspaper and network affiliated TV stations, and the UNITED STATES CENSUS BUREAU says they are different SMSA’s. NIELSEN can say this because only two companies, both owned by TEXAS corporations, iHEARTMEDIA (formerly CLEAR CHANNEL) and MEL WHEELER INC. subscribe to the data and they, and only they, get to define what counties are included in this fake market."
BURNS claims, "it gets worse. The FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC), the government agency that decides how many stations one owner can control in each market (based on market size) has delegated the job of defining a radio market to NIELSEN. So in a true life situation of the tail wagging the dog, the TEXAS based corporations that own the radio stations, get to tell NIELSEN, who reports to BIA, who tells the FCC, that ROANOKE and LYNCHBURG, is the same big city. Because of this very flawed policy the newly constituted big city of ROANOKE-LYNCHBURG has 46+ Radio stations, which allows these TEXAS based corporations, to each own 8 radio stations. The most anyone is allowed to own. Now here’s where it really gets convoluted. NIELSEN has abandoned antiquated diary based ratings in the big cities in favor of PPM, people meters that register actual listening on a continuous basis. Diary based estimates require each respondent to recall their listening at the end of the week and instead of continuous measurement, diary markets are only measured for 2, 13 week cycles, vs 52 weeks of continuous measurement in people meter markets (PPM). So in this fake big city market of ROANOKE-LYNCHBURG, NIELSEN places about 1200 diary’s over a 13 week period (less than 100 per week) to measure listening on 46+ radio stations. Then they will try to rank listeners by age, sex and day part and expect you to believe the data. So in fact if you are trying to measure men between the ages of 25-54 between the hours of 6-10a, you might be dealing with a universe of less than 40 diaries possible coming from fewer households. In tighter demographic cells it just gets worse! You can’t rely on the data. You can’t have it both ways NIELSEN, iHEART and WHEELER, diary based data is antiquated and has been abandoned in the big cities."
BURNS also wrote a letter to M CEO MEDIA RATING COUNCIL CEO GEORGE W. IVIE, making "a formal request that you review your accreditation of the ROANOKE-LYNCHBURG Radio market. The composition of the market has changed and is based on a flawed market definition resulting in not enough in tab diary’s to return estimates that can be relied on to be statistically accurate."