FTC Approves Final Order Settling Charges that Nielsen Holdings N.V. s Acquisition of Arbitron, Inc. Was Anticompetitive

 

Washington, DC - Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order settling charges that Nielsen Holdings N.V.’s acquisition of Arbitron, Inc. was anticompetitive.

According to the FTC’s September 2013 complaint, at the time of the acquisition, Nielsen and Arbitron were both developing national syndicated cross-platform audience measurement services, which allow audiences to be measured accurately across multiple viewing platforms, such as TV and online. The complaint alleges that the elimination of future competition between Nielsen and Arbitron in this market would increase the likelihood that Nielsen would exercise market power and likely cause advertisers, ad agencies, and programmers to pay more for national syndicated cross-platform audience measurement services.

The final order settling the FTC’s charges requires Nielsen to sell and license, for at least eight years, certain assets related to Arbitron’s cross-platform audience measurement services to an FTC-approved buyer. The FTC is currently seeking public comment on Nielsen’s request for agency approval to sell its LinkMeter technology and related data rights and assets to comScore, Inc.

The Commission vote approving the final consent order was 2-1-1, with Commissioner Wright voting no and Commissioner Ohlhausen recorded as recused. One comment was received during the public comment period and the FTC staff sent a response posted here. (FTC File No. 131-0058; the staff contact is Catherine Sanchez, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-3326).

The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to antitrust{at}ftc{dot}gov, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 601 New Jersey Ave., Room 7117, Washington, DC 20001.