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More Time to Comment on Nielsen-Arbitron Deal

FTC extends deadline for public to weigh-in on consent agreement

The Federal Trade Commission is giving the public more time to file comments on several matters, including the proposed consent agreement for the Nielsen acquisition of Arbitron, now called Nielsen Audio.

The 17-day partial federal government shutdown means the agency is extending the comment period to Nov. 12.

While the $1.26 billion Nielsen-Arbitron deal has already closed, the FTC says in a Federal Register notice the agency will review the filed comments and after 30 days, decide whether to withdraw from the proposed consent agreement or make it final.

Before the merger, both Nielsen and Arbitron were working on cross-platform audience measurement. Since Arbitron effectively had a lock on radio measurement and Nielsen had the same for television, the FTC OKed the deal with conditions to ensure the merged entity would not have a monopoly on cross-platform measurement in the U.S. Demand by advertisers and media companies for cross-platform measurement is growing, and the FTC says elimination of competition could have meant higher prices and less innovation for cross-platform measurement services.

To avoid creating a monopoly, among other things, the proposed consent agreement requires Nielsen to divest certain assets related to Arbitron’s cross-platform audience measurement within three months once the consent agreement is final. The buyer would receive the assets necessary to replicate Arbitron’s participation in the development of a national syndicated cross-platform measurement service, according to the FTC.

The FTC would require Nielsen to provide the buyer with a “perpetual, royalty-free license to data, including individual-level demographic data and technology related to and technology related to Arbitron’s cross-platform audience measurement business for a period of no less than eight years. Nielsen will also be required to make improvements and enhancements to the Arbitron panels at the request and expense of the [buyer] that will further the [buyer ’s] ability to offer a national syndicated cross-platform audience measurement service,” says the FTC in the notice.

Also, the consent agreement “removes impediments that might otherwise deter certain key Arbitron employees from accepting employment” with the buyer, according to the FTC, which has appointed a monitor to oversee Nielsen’s compliance.

File comments online.