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AC Nielsen Jr, who built ratings firm, dies at 92

AC Nielsen Jr, who built ratings firm, dies at 92
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First Published: Sat, Oct 08 2011. 12 07 AM IST
Updated: Sat, Oct 08 2011. 12 07 AM IST
Arthur C. Nielsen Jr., who transformed the company his father founded in 1923 into an international leader in market research, helping to make its name synonymous with television ratings, died on Monday in Winnetka, Illinois, where he lived most of his life. He was 92.
He had Parkinson's disease, family members said in announcing his death.
The son of Arthur C. Nielsen, Nielsen became president of the A.C. Nielsen Co. in 1957 and its chairman in 1975. He presided over the company's growth from a modest operation, generating less than $4 million a year in revenue, to one with revenue of more than $680 million.
The most visible expansion of the Nielsen business took place in the media measurement division. Nielsen fought to retain its place—critics have long labelled it a monopoly—over the measurement of television ratings, beating back the challenges of several potential rivals. As cable television began vastly expanding the number of networks needing national measurement, Nielsen was positioned to provide the numbers each of those channels needed to sell time to advertisers.
Nielsen served on the boards of more than 20 companies, including Dun & Bradstreet, Walgreen, Marsh & McLennan and Motorola, and advised three presidents.
He also appeared as a mystery guest on the postwar TV show "What's My Line?" and was questioned about his line of work by the panellists Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf and others. Accepting the company's strict retirement policy, Nielsen stepped down from active leadership in 1983 and became chairman emeritus.
©2011 The New York Times
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First Published: Sat, Oct 08 2011. 12 07 AM IST