The Week

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Nielsen Media Research launched its local people meter for Los Angeles on July 8 despite continued protests from the Don't Count Us Out Coalition of local interest groups, which is supported by News Corp.'s Fox Network. The group planned a protest in Los Angeles for July 8. Nielsen, a unit of VNU, said in a statement issued last week, that it would offer data from paper diaries in the L.A. market for the July sweeps period, which ends Aug. 4, for those who are not convinced that the people meters are recording accurate information. Nielsen also confirmed plans to launch people meters in Chicago on Aug. 5 and San Francisco on Sept. 30. In New York, where people meters are already in use, paper diaries will be discontinued Aug. 25. The Media Ratings Council, an audience-measurement audit body, is reviewing the latest Nielsen people meter in Los Angeles for accuracy and is yet to accredit Nielsen's New York system. The Don't Count Us Out Coalition contends that the new local people meters are not adequately representing minority audiences.

Miller sponsors `Rescue Me' on FX

Stepping up its branded-entertainment efforts, Miller Brewing Co. is sponsoring cable network FX's upcoming series "Rescue Me." Under the terms of the deal with FX, a unit of Fox Cable, the series' July 21 premiere will air without commercials, with Miller as its sponsor. The agreement includes an introduction and "thank you" messages with the series' cast. Miller branding will appear on printed, digital and televised promotional materials over the course of the season. Miller products will be woven into the storyline of the series, a drama about firefighters. A Miller spokesman said it fits in with the brewer's efforts to "break through" to consumers and "do more than the standard 30-second commercial." Starcom USA, Chicago, part of Publicis Groupe's Starcom Mediavest Group, negotiated the sponsorship. QwikFIND aap78v

Interpublic to end racetrack endeavor

Interpublic Group of Cos. will end its work marketing motor sports between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, after reaching an agreement to get out of its lease of a U.K. racetrack. Interpublic announced it will pay the British Racing Drivers Club about $49 million to end its lease of the Silverstone auto racing track before its 2007 term and end other related agreements. Interpublic had previously announced an agreement with Formula One Administration, to end a contract to promote the British Grand Prix after that race this month. The U.K. contracts were part of Interpublic's ill-fated Octagon Motor Sports unit, which was blamed for several restatements of earnings and profit shortfalls in 2003.

Ex-Saatchi worker files race complaint

A former employee of Saatchi & Saatchi New York, part of the Publicis Groupe-owned Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide network, filed a complaint last month with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, accusing the agency, as well as three current and one former agency executive, of discrimination based on race. Daphne Streeter, who worked as a multicultural strategic planner at Saatchi from October 2003 to March 2004, claims she was subjected to "harassment [and] a hostile work environment," according to a copy of the complaint obtained by Advertising Age. The allegations are under investigation, a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Commission said. Heidi Young, general counsel for Saatchi & Saatchi North America, would not comment on the matter. Since November the commission has been investigating Madison Avenue's hiring and retention of minority employees after receiving allegations that many agencies could be in violation of the New York City human-rights law, according to a spokeswoman. QwikFIND aap78x

FYI . . .

A lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court last week threatens to block the implementation of a 20-year contract, worth an estimated $1 billion, for street furniture in New York City. The suit, brought by 11 newsstand operators as well as the association representing newsstand operators, seeks to prevent the city from enforcing Local Law 64, which governs newsstands' installation and maintenance, ownership and placement of advertising. New York's Department of Transportation issued a request for proposals seeking vendors to build and maintain a variety of street furniture March 26. The suit contends that the law violates newsstand operators' property rights and First Amendment rights. Bids for the RFP are due August 5. The city said it intends to fight the allegations. QwikFIND aap79h ... Marketing Association has appointed John A. Greco J. as president and CEO of the organization. He replaces H. Robert Wientzen who steps down Aug. 16 after an eight-year tenure. QwikFIND aap79l

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