LOCAL RATINGS STILL A SORE SPOT

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Now that a credible national Hispanic TV ratings service is in place, Telemundo and Univision net works are working to get more reliable local ratings data.

"It's our No.|1 priority this year, to get improved local ratings service by November at the latest," says Doug Darfield, VP-research director at Univision Television Network.

The local ratings problem became particularly acute when Arbitron Co. at year-end eliminated its local ratings measurement service, believed to best measure the Hispanic market.

Telemundo Group and Univision are talking to Nielsen Media Research, which handles national Hispanic ratings, and other companies about improving their local samples to proportionately include English-dominant, bilingual and Spanish-dominant Hispanics. That last group is considered the most difficult to track but the most important to Spanish-language TV.

Discussions also are ongoing with Arbitron about a Hispanic-only local service.

"At the local level, there is a gross underrepresentation of Spanish-dominant Hispanics [by Nielsen] .|.|. Our share of the spot market is seriously below the true share of viewing," says Jon Marks, VP-director of corporate research for Telemundo Group.

"There's a lot of guesswork involved," says Rina Alvarez Flaharty, Hispanic media supervisor at Leo Burnett USA, Chicago. "Something reliable is needed."M

-Christy Fisher

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