Are the Nielsens to blame for UPN's low ratings? -- The network questions the ratings service's monitoring of African-American viewership

By EW Staff
Updated January 31, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Bad Nielsens or bad programs? At the Television Critics Association Press Tour, Jan. 19, Viacom co-president Les Moonves blamed falling numbers for such UPN comedies as Half & Half and Second Time Around on Nielsen, suggesting that the monopoly ratings service improperly calculates African-American viewership. ”I’m not here to knock Nielsen,” said Moonves, who noted double-digit declines for six of the net’s shows (Viacom is UPN’s parent company). ”We are questioning the numbers and looking if the sampling is right in those viewers.” For its part, Nielsen, which in the past has been accused of undersampling Hispanics and men ages 18 to 34, deflects the charge as a case of sour grapes. ”In the fourth quarter, other networks, such as Fox, saw gains for African-American viewers,” a rep says. ”Our sample composition for this season is right on the mark where it should be for African Americans overall.”