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Swords remain sheathed, but pens unholstered

Reaction to news of the NAB/Fritts letter to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) was swift from the principals involved in the dispute. Both sides seemed surprised by the development, with Nielsen literally saying as much. The reactions were, of course, completely opposite. Comcast has also weighed in, on Nielsen's side. Here they are.

* Nielsen: "We are surprised that the NAB, which has been a long-standing champion of the free market and a free broadcasting system, would abandon its principles under pressure from some of its largest members who are so aggressively seeking government support to protect their financial self-interests. And this at the expense of minority-owned channels who rely on more accurate ratings technology to effectively compete." Reached by RBR/TVBR as she lobbied on Capitol Hill against the bill, Nielsen Media Research CEO Susan Whiting said of the NAB's move, "It is really disappointing, but not surprising." She said the legislation "isn't a solution to anything" and is distracting from an effort to establish a voluntary MRC code of conduct.

* The Don't Count Us Out Coalition: "Today's letter from the National Association of Broadcasters supporting the FAIR Ratings Bill is further evidence that a growing chorus of voices from across the country believe that this bill will bring accountability, accuracy and fairness to television ratings. The NAB letter confirms what the Don't Count Us Out coalition has been saying since this legislation was introduced - reinforcing the MRC and allowing it to perform the function Congress intended is a common-sense approach. We welcome the support of this respected group of broadcasters."

* From Comcast's letter: "While there has been persistent effort by certain broadcasting companies - - and organizations that they have funded - - to portray this debate as affecting the public interest, the simple fact is that those companies are trying to hold back technological progress because it threatens their bottom line."

[Read the Comcast letter here]

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