Don't Count Us Out

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Don't Count Us Out (DCUO) describes itself as "a coalition of minority leaders, community groups, producers, directors, actors and everyday viewers concerned about fair and accurate television ratings." [1]

PR firms

DCUO was established in early 2004, as part of a campaign by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, "to block Nielsen Research from changing the TV ratings system," according to the National Journal (Sept 13, 2004). News Corp. hired the PR firms Glover Park Group, Dewey Square Group and Grassroots Enterprise, Inc., which organized DCUO as part of their "lobbying, advertising and grassroots campaign designed to persuade black and Hispanic lawmakers to pressure Nielsen to scrap the new ratings system." DCUO also worked with Glover Park Group and Brand Sphere Partners on media outreach around their April 2004 events. [2]

In May 2005, Maria Cardona joined Dewey Square Group to work on the Don't Count Us Out campaign. Cardona, who previously worked with the New Democratic Network and Democratic National Committee, focuses on "Latino organizations and communities" ("People and Organizations," Campaigns & Elections, May 2005).

Ratings wars

DCUO claims that Nielsen Media Research's "own research shows that African American and Hispanic viewers using Local People Meter technology may be undercounted by as much as 25%," and expresses concern at the potential "economic and cultural impact on our society" of losing TV shows important to communities of color. [3] But, according to Roll Call (Apr. 7, 2004), News Corp.'s motviation is "fear [at] the loss of millions of dollars in advertising revenue under the new ratings system." ("Nielsen," noted Roll Call, "counters that the new system increases ratings for black and Hispanic households.")

One year later

In April 2005, DCUO celebrated its one-year anniversary by announcing a new "advertising campaign and a new Web site called 'Recommendation Watch'," which will "track Nielsen's progress towards improving minority TV measurement." The ads were created by Glover Park Group, according to AdWeek (Katy Bachman, "DCUO Launches Nielsen Oversight Campaign," AdWeek, April 12, 2005).

Less than two weeks later, Nielsen countered with a statement, reading: [4]

The Glover Park Group is admitting for the first time that it created, organized and directed the activities of the Don't Count Us Out organization at the behest of News Corp. Don't Count Us Out has always maintained that it was an independent group of community activists. However, this admission, which is found on Glover Park's own website as a "case study" to attract more clients, clearly shows that it was always acting to advance the corporate interests of News Corp. and its TV stations, which experienced lower ratings after Nielsen replaced paper diaries with more accurate electronic Local People Meters in major television markets.

DCUO head Gil Casellas countered that his group has "always readily discussed the fact that we receive financial and logistical support from News Corp.," and accused Nielsen of "trying to change the topic from the plain fact that right now Nielsen's monopoly ratings service is not fully accredited in any market in the United States except one. Nielsen should spend more time fixing its broken ratings system and less time slinging mud at community activists" (William Triplett, "News Corp. pulls strings on coalition," Variety, April 25, 2005).

Staff

From various sources: [5]

Media contacts: [6]

Contact Information

Website defunct, but archived here

SourceWatch resources

External links