FTC Clears Nielsen's Purchase of Arbitron

The biggest TV measurement service and the biggest radio measurement service expect to complete the merger Sept. 30.

The nation’s largest TV measurement service has gotten government permission to acquire the largest radio measurement service, with the deal due to close Sept. 30.

On Friday, Nielsen Holdings N.V. announced that it reached agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to acquire Arbitron, a deal that was first announced in December 2012.

Nielsen notes the deal with the FTC will preserve the competitive landscape but does not impact their strategic rationale for the acquisition, or take away any of the benefits they expect from the combination of the two companies.

“The FTC’s order,” read the announcement, “effectively enables the continuation of a cross-platform project measuring TV, radio, PC, mobile and tablet engagement which was announced by Arbitron in concert with ESPN and comScore, Inc. in September 2012.”

“We are looking forward to providing all of the benefits of the combined company to our new clients in the radio industry and their advertisers,” said Nielsen CEO David Calhoun, “driving incremental value for them as well as our shareholders.”

That means that they agree to license data to third parties for the purpose of doing cross platform measurement for the next eight years.

“The area of cross-platform measurement is still in its early stages and its value is yet to be determined by the market,” added Calhoun. “We at Nielsen look forward to pursuing the value of cross-platform services through our own unique offerings and expect that with our resources, our deep knowledge of video and our commitment to innovation, we will help the market ultimately define what cross-platform represents.”

Nielsen will acquire Arbitron stock for $48 per share or a total of $1.3 billion. Nielsen said it will be funded by cash on hand and a small amount of debt financing.

Arbitron was first founded in 1949 as the American Research Bureau, taking the name Arbitron in the mid-1960s. The name was borrowed from Arbitron Systems, an early computer used in media measurement.

The deal comes at a time that the measurement industry is undergoing massive change. That is caused by the extension of viewing and listening from traditional TV and radio devices to a wide range of online and mobile options. Nielsen said earlier this week it will soon begin to measure viewing on mobile devices for the first time.

“Adding Arbitron to Nielsen will enable broader measurement of what consumers are watching and listening to around the world and deeper measurement of multicultural audiences in the U.S.,” read the announcement. “The combined company will expand advertising effectiveness for radio clients and be better able to solve for unmeasured areas of media consumption, such as streaming audio and out-of-home.”