Arun Ramaswamy, Nielsen Audio’s chief engineer, reviewed the company’s research on Voltair and then said this:
So here are the conclusions. First Nielsen reiterates its non-support for Voltair. The reasons are as follows:
- Voltair can impact the audio quality for listeners.
- It alters the Nielsen encoding as I listed out.
- Third, it can actually result in crediting in cases where sometimes it’s unintelligible listening.
- It introduces variability through the station-controlled settings, you know there’s a dial that can be changed.
- And then finally, it is not uniformly universally implemented which could result in an unequal market dynamic.
So for these particular reasons, we cannot support Voltair.
It is a curiously worded conclusion.
Nielsen has leveled some pretty serious charges suggesting that Voltair unfairly manipulates PPM codes and the strongest step it is willing to take is to express “non-support”?
What does “non-support” mean? And if Nielsen instead supported Voltair, how would things be different?
If Voltair really does all the bad things that Nielsen says it does, why didn’t Nielsen just ban the box like the Canadians did?
Perhaps Nielsen’s evidence isn’t as strong as it is portrayed in the two data tables presented.
Or perhaps Nielsen is afraid that 25-Seven, the manufacturer of Voltair, might sue if it took stronger steps.
Or perhaps Voltair really has revealed flaws in PPM and pressing the matter by going further than expressing “non-support” for Voltair might invite greater scrutiny.
The announcement that followed Mr. Ramaswamy's conclusions gives us a hint of why “non-support” was the strongest response Nielsen was willing to make.
We’ll explain why in our next installment.