Nielsen reaches settlement with FTC on Arbitron

Nielsen must sell and license certain Arbitron services under FTC settlement

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Nielsen Holdings N.V. has agreed to a sell and license part of Arbitron's services in order to settle the Federal Trade Commission's concerns their merger would stymie competition. The settlement, announced Friday, helps clear the way for Nielsen to complete its $1.26 billion purchase of Arbitron.

Nielsen, the dominant source of TV tracking information, first announced the deal in 2012 as a means to expand into radio measurement.

Arbitron, headquartered in Columbia, Md., pays 70,000 people to carry around gadgets that register what stations they're listening to. Its operations are mainly in the U.S.

Nielsen, based in New York and the Netherlands, operates globally.

The FTC was worried the combination would lessen competition and force advertisers to pay more for national syndicated cross-platform audience measurement services.

Under the agreement, Nielsen will sell and license, for at least eight years, certain assets related to Arbitron's cross-platform audience measurement services to an FTC-approved buyer within three months. The buyer will get everything it needs to replicate Arbitron's services.

The FTC's agreement with Nielsen also includes certain terms designed to ensure the success of the buyer as a viable competitor, such as requiring that Nielsen provide technical assistance and remove barriers that might otherwise keep the acquirer from hiring key Arbitron employees.

Nielsen CEO David Calhoun said the company is pleased to have the regulatory process complete and said it was a "highly acceptable outcome" for the company.

The company now expects the deal to close on Sept. 30.

Nielsen shares fell $1.31 to close at $35.87 and were unchanged in after-hours trading.

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