WASHINGTON, Sept 20 Television ratings giant
Nielsen Holdings NV won U.S. antitrust approval on
Friday for a $1.6 billion deal to buy Arbitron Inc, a
company that dominates radio ratings measurement.
The Federal Trade Commission said in a statement that
Nielsen had agreed to sell and license some assets related to
Arbitron's cross-platform as a condition of approval.
"We are looking forward to providing all of the benefits of
the combined company to our new clients in the radio industry
and their advertisers," Nielsen CEO David Calhoun said of the
deal that is expected to close Sept. 30.
The deal will expand cross-platform services that give a
view into what customers watch on television, listen to on the
radio, look at online and see on their mobile devices.
Access to reliable ratings is critical for companies that
are drawing up advertising strategies, spending some $140
billion in 2012 according to data from Kantar Media. The higher
the rating and the more attractive the demographic, the more
advertisers will be asked to pay for the spot.
The FTC split on whether to approve the proposed remedy. The
two Democratic commissioners - Edith Ramirez, the chairwoman,
and Julie Brill - voted for it. Of the two Republicans, Joshua
Wright voted against it and Maureen Ohlhausen was recused.
The commission is normally comprised of five members. A
third Democrat, Terrell McSweeny, has been nominated but awaits
approval by the U.S. Senate.
By acquiring Arbitron, Nielsen also gains access to data on
what is known in industry parlance as "out-of-home," essentially
billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising.
Both Nielsen and Arbitron use devices - with Nielsen the
"people meter" and with Arbitron the "portable people meter,"
(PPM) a pager-like device that measures what radio station
people listen to - which measure consumer demographics.
Both also have an online presence, although the big dog in
Internet ratings remains comScore Inc. Nielsen, for
example, provides various data services including the
measurement of traffic to websites. It also provides information
about what consumers buy at retail stores.
The deal, announced in December, was approved by Arbitron
shareholders in April.
Nielsen closed on Friday at $35.87 per share, down 3.5
percent, and Arbitron at $47.60, down 0.3 percent, on the New
York Stock Exchange.