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Kathy Crawford spells out LPM impact

As President/Local Broadcast at MindShare, Kathy Crawford, has long been pressing for more and better ratings data in both TV and radio. As we reported yesterday (6/6/05 RBR #110), she sees the 28-day delay for Local People Meters in Washington, DC and Philadelphia as pretty insignificant, but she does see LPM implementation as very significant. The broadcasters who complained about LPMs in a letter to Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting, leading to that temporary delay (6/2/05 TVBR #108), will get no support from her. Here's her take on the LPM dust-up.

"This delay is really nothing. All it does is give them time to adjust to the numbers. The numbers aren't going to change, and as far as I'm concerned, it's a 100% improvement over what we've had before. Yes, it's very dramatic - - the changes in the marketplace - - but you know, so be it."

Let's say LPM gets put in place across the country and numerous markets have broadcast numbers trending lower and cable higher. What if broadcasters want to raise their rates to counter the difference? (Is this a trick question...?)

"It is kind of a trick question. Let me tell you what the trick is - - some of the buys have already been made, so we have to deal with that. That's Phase I. Phase II - - now we're dealing in CPPs in a marketplace that are going to force us into a position of buying less in the marketplace, in terms of numbers of GRPs because there are less available. And we're not going to be at the same CPP that we were before. The clients all know this, they all are aware of the fact that their CPPs are going to be much higher, and it's going to take a year to settle this out. This is the way it has been in every LPM market. Nothing about that is going to change, but whoever in the world thinks that the old way was right was right because the numbers were higher is just kidding themselves. This is the way it is. This is a better reflection of what the viewership is in the marketplace, no matter what they think. And I will tell you that I have been through this with our research people a billion times. Are we looking at a better sample? Yes, the sample is better, the fault rates, there are a couple of problems, but you know what? There are problems with the fault rates in the diary situation. Really and truthfully, I would love to have them sit down and compare, side-by-side, and tell me that there is such a big problem - - because there isn't. All the data shows us is that it isn't nearly what they think it is. And they are making a lot of hooey out of not a big deal.

But they're scared - - they don't know what they're going to have to deal with. That is what this is all about. They have to change the entire way in which they think. And they're going to have to readjust rates, rating, everything."

Bottom line, after LPM is completely rolled out, is this going to give you more confidence in broadcast television numbers?

"Yes, there is a good side, because I can look at this daily now. I can see what my delivery is going to be daily. I couldn't do that before. When you used the term confidence, let me put it to you in another form. I'm mush more confident in the delivery mechanism. Do I have more confidence in the numbers? Yes, from a research standpoint, I do. But mechanically, I couldn't see anything for months because I wouldn't have a book. The book is what I was dealing with in all of these markets, except for the households. The households I would get every day in these markets, but I didn't get the demos. Now I'm going to get the demos - - I don't buy households, I buy demos."

She adds, "We're living in 1902 in the scheme of things. We're playing catch-up here. We should have been here long ago. The people Meter has been out there for years and we've never gotten it done and we've been screaming about it for years. Well now we're going to get it done in the top 10 markets, but we're going about this is like slow motion. And now we've got the stations who have had their heads in the sand over so many things. In the early 80s they said cable would never happen. Then they said Hispanic television would never happen. And they're doing the same thing now. They haven't been looking at this thing and getting themselves prepared for it. They've waited until it all hit the fan and now they've reacted by writing demand letters to Nielsen. Well, you know, it's a little late, this thing has been going on for months, it's been out there for months. And now at the witching hour they wake up to a problem? The problem isn't the Nielsen numbers per se. The problem is that they haven't adjusted to it. And they haven't done their own homework. And I'm sorry, I have the ultimate respect for these guys, especially the guys at Tribune. I always have, I've worked for them for years. I have great respect for them, but I think now is the time to face the music."

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