CHANGE THE SAMPLE & HELP! CHANGE TV
The genesis of “Help! Change TV” (HCTV) came about in November of 2005 when Robert G. Rose, President of AIM Tell-A-Vision Group and co-creator of the nationally syndicated television shows American Latino TV & LatiNation, began a grassroots awareness initiative initially called “Change The Sample” targeted to the television and marketing industry.
The initiative was conceived and launched as a response to Nielsen Media Research, the multi-billion dollar corporation responsible for measuring TV audiences in the U.S, repeatedly ignoring research that indicated the company was under representing U.S. born Latinos (2nd and 3rd Generation Latinos) in its research samples.
Rose contended that Nielsen’s erroneous research methods were not only misleading the media and marketing industry about Hispanic viewers’ preferences but were greatly contributing to the gross under representation and stereotyping of Latinos on U.S. mainstream television.
The initiative tapped into a whirlwind of frustration felt by industry executives at Nielsen’s inaccurate research and Hispanic TV viewers at their stereotypical depictions on mainstream television. As the initiative went viral and gained momentum, it was rebranded “Help! Change TV” and expanded to target consumers and TV viewers via a series of radio, TV and outdoor ad campaigns.
The impact included dozens of articles in the major trade and consumer press, national and local television and radio interviews, industry speaking engagements and 7,639 signed petitions from people within and without the media industry demanding that Nielsen change its method of TV audience measurement.
The pressure exerted from the industry and viewers also led to high profile industry debates and private behind the scenes meetings with Nielsen to address the discrepancy in the research. Unfortunately, the private meetings resulted in what ultimately proved to be empty promises and corporate double talk by Nielsen to “further research” the issue and present their findings in the fall of 2006.
In the end, Nielsen NEVER reported results of any further study as it promised or announced any steps to correct its flawed research methodology. The company continues what Rose contends is a flawed system of under sampling of U.S. born Latinos. The result is an undermined and inaccurate television ratings system in the United States that severely misrepresents the media consumption patterns of the majority of U.S. Latinos.
A NOTE FROM ROBERT G. ROSE
I’d like to thank everyone for their support of “Change the Sample” and “Help! Change TV” over the past few years.
On the surface, it appears our initiative did little to convince the multi-billion dollar TV research monopoly, Nielsen Media Research, to change its erroneous TV ratings system. However, I believe it did achieve other positive outcomes, not the least of which was helping to raise awareness about the under representation and damaging stereotypical portrayals of Latinos on mainstream television.
Latino representation on mainstream television has improved dramatically from when our initiative was first announced in 2005, with more positive and accurate Latino images presented on mainstream television than ever. U.S. Latinos and all minorities have made tremendous strides insuring their voices are heard but of course there is still much room for improvement.
Unfortunately, with Nielsen’s tremendous size, political clout and stranglehold on the television research industry, there is little incentive for them to do the right thing and create a more accurate ratings system. This glaring example of monopolistic sloth, not only hurts the media and marketing industry, but the average television viewer and because of the media’s power and influence, society at large.
Their inaccurate ratings system impacts the very images we see on television, leading to a “race to the bottom” in terms of quality of TV content and programming. This impacts our children most of all, who are inordinately influenced by the media images they are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Despite raking in billions in revenue annually, Nielsen continues to opt for a system that is needlessly biased, using yesterday’s research to attempt to measure today’s rapidly evolving demographic and media landscape.
With their plethora of resources, why wouldn’t Nielsen want more accurate ratings? One could assume this is to maximize profits by protecting existing big dollar relationships with the Spanish language TV networks and their clients. Perhaps it is simply a prevailing corporate culture of a cultural disconnect, lazy thinking or even incompetence.
However, I reiterate our efforts were not in vain, as evidenced by the sheer growth and influence of American Latinos in today’s mainstream media environment.
Thank you again for your support and I hope whatever other issues you may choose to take on, whatever wrong you try and make right, that you will, like me, continue to fight the good fight regardless of the odds or the size of the pocketbook of those who would support a status quo that only serves to benefit themselves.
To view some of the passionate comments by “Change the Sample” and “Help! Change TV” petitioners click HERE.[PDF file]
© 2010 AIM Tell-A-Vision Group