Allbritton’s twin ABC affiliate in Birmingham, Ala., said Thursday that Nielsen has acknowledged that it has been undercounting the stations’ audience for the past 10 months by counting only analog viewers. “We are very unhappy,” says GM Mike Murphy.
WJSU and WCFT, Allbritton’s twin ABC affiliates in Birmingham, Ala. (DMA 40), said Thursday that Nielsen has acknowledged that it has been undercounting the stations’ audience for the past 10 months by counting only analog viewers.
“What Nielsen essentially admitted is that none of those viewers who watched our digital signal over the air, on cable or on satellite were counted for almost a full year,” said the stations’ General Manager Mike Murphy. “That is simply astonishing. We are very unhappy.”
According to the stations, Nielsen blamed the undercount on a “procedural error” and said it would reissue the ratings for the 10-month period, which includes the sweeps of July and November 2008 and March 2009.
Allbritton said the magnitude of the undercount has not yet been determined, but said that it is probably “considerable.”
James Killen, vice president for sales, Allbritton, said: “We rely on the ratings company to get it right and for almost a year they’ve gotten it wrong. Nielsen is a monopoly. There is no alternative provider. When the numbers are so egregiously under-reported, it dramatically affects not only our business but also which programs will remain on the air.”
Murphy said that he has suspected that Nielsen had been shortchanging his stations for 16-18 months and has been working with Nielsen and researchers to prove it. Nielsen’s admission of a problem came Tuesday during a conference call, he said.
“When I told the staff, they cheered,” Murphy said. “They knew something was wrong. They have been working very hard.”
Nielsen has not not commented on Allbritton’s announcement.