FTC extends comment period on Nielsen/Arbitron deal


Arbitron and NielsenThe Federal Trade Commission comment window was scheduled to close 10/21/13 for those wishing to weigh in on Nielsen’s big $1.26B acquisition of Arbitron. The government shutdown has led to an extension.

In order to make sure that all interested parties have an opportunity to weigh in, the deadline has been moved forward to 11/12/13.

The FTC’s primary concern with the proposed deal is the plan of the merged entity to use its combined powers to create a ratings regime that measure audience across media. The agency worries that the strongest hope for competition in that area is for the two companies to remain separate and in competition; and that the concentration of power in one company will ultimately result in higher prices for users of such a service than would otherwise be the case.

Here is the primary condition FTC is tying to its approval of the transaction:

“It requires Nielsen to sell and license, for at least eight years, certain assets related to Arbitron’s cross-platform audience measurement services to an FTC-approved buyer, within three months. Under the order, the acquirer will get everything it needs to replicate Arbitron’s participation in a national syndicated cross-platform audience measurement service. The order also contains terms designed to ensure the success of the acquirer as a viable competitor, such as requiring that Nielsen provide technical assistance and remove barriers that might otherwise keep the acquirer from hiring key Arbitron employees.”