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Archive for Monday, December 19, 2005

People in the news

December 19, 2005

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Television ratings company prepares to enter DVR age

New York - Starting this week, the company that measures what people watch on television will also follow what they record on DVRs to watch later.

The move by Nielsen Media Research is a reflection of how the traditional notion of watching TV is changing. And if Nielsen's numbers show that new technology is also changing what people are watching, it has the potential to profoundly disrupt a multibillion-dollar business.

An estimated 7 percent of the nation's 110 million homes with televisions now have digital video recorders, and that's expected to rise to one quarter of the TV population by sometime in 2007, Nielsen said.

Until now, Nielsen has bypassed these DVR homes when it signs up the estimated 9,000 families that make up its national sample of homes. These so-called Nielsen families provide the basis for its ratings, which make a show a hit or flop.

DVR homes will be included starting Dec. 26, said Karen Gyimesi, company spokeswoman. It has taken this long partly because the Nielsen "people meters" that record what families are watching weren't equipped to handle DVRs, she said.

The company's new "active/passive meters" can, however. And with the help of a code embedded in a program by the television networks, they can tell when something that has been recorded is actually watched. They even know when people fast-forward through commercials.

Testing over the past year has revealed what seems to be common sense: popular shows like "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Desperate Housewives" are the most likely to be taped and watched later, Nielsen said.

But since people with DVRs tend to watch more television than people without them, the data also may help smaller, cult favorites. Tests revealed that the WB's "Smallville," for example, was watched at double the rate in DVR homes than in homes without the device.

Nielsen each week has given its clients - mostly TV networks, advertisers and ad agencies - a list of how many people watch each program live each week. Now, Nielsen will offer three lists: the number of people who watch a show live; the number who watch it live or within 24 hours; and the number of people who watch it live or within a week. An estimated 90 percent of people who record programs play them back within a week, Nielsen said.

Sculpture thieves' vehicles located

London - British police said Sunday they found a flatbed truck and crane that were apparently used in the theft of a $5.2 million Henry Moore sculpture from the artist's estate north of London.

The truck and crane, discovered in the area on Saturday night, were filmed by a security camera as they took the two-ton "Reclining Figure" bronze sculpture from the Henry Moore Foundation estate in the county of Hertfordshire, police said.

Police fear that the thieves may have stolen the 1969/1970 work Thursday night to melt it down and sell for scrap metal, even though it could earn far more money if sold as a work of art.

Moore created some of modern art's most recognizable sculptures, including large, abstract works cast in bronze or carved from stone.

The prolific British artist, who died in 1986 at age 88, established and endowed a foundation in 1977 that operates from Perry Green, his 70-acre country estate and studios 30 miles north of London.

'On the Road' on road

San Francisco - Fans of Jack Kerouac's 1957 book "On the Road" will soon have the chance to see a portion of the original 120-foot manuscript scroll that inspired a subculture of restless beatniks.

A 36-foot portion of the yellowed scroll will be on display at the San Francisco Public Library from Jan. 14 to March 19. The manuscript was publicly displayed for the first time in February at the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

The San Francisco exhibit will also include books and pictures that detail Kerouac's life and the history of the so-called Beat Generation.

"On the Road" was based on Kerouac's cross-country adventures with his friend Neal Cassady. Kerouac wrote the novel over a 20-day span in 1951, typing on 12-foot rolls of tracing paper so he didn't have to pause to load paper in his typewriter.

Qualified happiness at last

London - Elton John said forming a civil partnership with his longtime lover David Furnish in England this week will be "the happiest day of my life."

"It has been a long struggle for equal rights to gay people in Britain, but now, in the 21st century, we have real civil rights, tolerance and final acceptance in our lives," John wrote in The Observer, a Sunday newspaper. "Next Wednesday, on the happiest day of my life, when I celebrate a civil partnership with David, I will be thinking, however, about those less fortunate than we are. In many countries, having a same-sex partner is still outlawed."

Quoting Amnesty International, John said an estimated 80 countries still have laws that criminalize adult same-sex relations. He also cited specific cases of abuse in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Jamaica, Uganda, Iraq and Poland.

"Throughout history, gay people such as myself and David have often been made scapegoats by those who fear that we are a threat to the status quo," John said.

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