Media Dictionary

“A” Counties – The classification of counties based on Census household counts and metropolitan proximity. “A” counties are highly urbanized areas and belong to the 21 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The combined counties contain 40% of the United States households.

AAAA (American Association of Advertising Agencies) – An organization representing the interests of advertising agencies.

AAF (American Advertising Federation) – An association that advocates the rights of advertisers. Based in Washington, the AAF is a grass-roots organization with chapters in most U.S. cities. The AAF Foundation supports educational programs and minority group employment initiatives.

Above-the-Line Costs – Production costs related to story and script, producer, director and stars. The program’s other costs are “below-the-line.”

Ace Awards – Annual awards by the National Cable Television Assn. In recognition of outstanding achievement in programs for cable television. Initiated in 1979.

Across the Board – A “board” being a week; a program or commercial announcement scheduled at the same time on successive days of the week.

Address – An Internet term. There are two types of addresses: E-mail addresses are for sending e-mail to someone; they almost always contain an @ symbol between the individual’s name and the domain name. Web page addresses are more properly called URLs.

Addressability – Remote control function of sophisticated equipment that allows a cable operator to activate, disconnect or unscramble the signal received by a subscriber. Also called Addressable Cable Converters.

Ad Hoc Network – A temporary grouping of stations to carry a specific program.

Adjacencies – Commercial announcements which are next to, or adjacent to, a program rather than in breaks within the main body of the program.

Ad*Sentry – Ad*Sentry is a web-based tool from Nielsen Monitor-Plus that identifies new TV spots within 48 hours of the first airing, providing digital images in full color and audio.  Clients select specifications by advertiser, brand, or category, and are immediately alerted via email when a new creative is identified. Ad*Sentry reports occurrence data for each creative by market, distributor, date/time, and commercial duration. 

Advances – The local audience ratings estimates available just before receipt of the printed local ratings report.

Advertising Agency – An organization acting as an agent for a producer of goods or services (an advertiser) devoted to developing and placing advertising in order to further the acceptance of a brand product, service, or idea.

Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) – Founded in 1936 by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the ARF’s mission is to improve the practice of advertising, marketing and media research. It is located in New York.

Ad*Views – Ad*Views, Monitor-Plus’ flagship product, provides summarized and detailed advertising intelligence across 16 media. Ad*Views delivers competitive information in standard report layouts, customized layouts and offers many exclusive functions for advanced competitive analyses. A few of the capabilities includes: details on promotional activity, digital snapshots of all creative executions, trending of ad dollars for any of the 210 U.S. markets, and share of business reports. Ad*Views tracks and analyzes commercial units, GRPs, and dollars in a single, easy-to-use system. More about Ad*Views on our Monitor-Plus site

Affidavit – A document used in commercial television stating that a commercial or program ran as ordered.

Affiliate – A broadcast station not owned by a network but airing its programs and commercials.

Alternate Delivery Source (ADS) – The technologies included in alternate delivery sources are satellite (C-Band), DBS (KU-Band), SMATV (Master Antennae) and MMDS (includes Multi-channel multi-point and multi-point distribution service). 

AM/FM – See Modulation

American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) – A national, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing women in the electronic media and related fields. Established in 1951, AWRT has local chapters throughout the U.S.

AMOL – See Automated Measurement of Lineups.

Amplifier – Electronic device used to boost, or amplify, electrical signals. In cable systems, amplifiers are used to strengthen TV signals distributed by coaxial cable.

ANA (Association of National Advertisers) – Established in 1910 to represent the interests of advertisers.

Analog – A continuous electronic signal that carries information in the form of variable physical values, such as amplitude or frequency modulation (AM or FM); unlike digital signals which are made up of discrete pulses.

Ancillary Markets – Secondary sales targets for a program that has completed its first run(s) on its initial delivery medium.

Andy Awards – Awards for print and broadcast creativity given by the Advertising Club of New York.

ANIK – Canadian broadcast satellite.

Antenna – A metallic device such as a rod or wire used for radiating or receiving TV or radio signals through the air.

Anti-Leap Frogging – A former FCC requirement that cable systems importing distant signals select those broadcast stations originating in outside markets that are closest to the cable system’s community.

Area Probability Sample – A type of a probability sample. The initial sampling units are well defined geographic areas, and ultimately housing units. (See also, Probability Sample.)

ARPANET – A computer network developed by the U.S. Department of Defense during the Cold War, it later became the basis of the Internet. Designed to survive nuclear attacks, ARPANET was distributed over a large number of geographically dispersed computers so that, even if most servers were destroyed, the remaining servers would be able to communicate.

Aspect Ratio – The ratio of a screen’s width to its height. Today’s TV screens have a 4×3 ratio. In the digital television environment, TV screens may have ratios as high as 19×6.

Association of Independent Television Stations (INTV) – Association that represents the interests of independent television stations in regulatory and promotional concerns. It is based in Washington, DC.

Attrition – The loss of respondents from a research panel. Panel members may drop out voluntarily or be asked to leave. The attrition rate usually is expressed as a percentage of the ongoing panel for one year.

Audience – A group of households or individuals who are attending, listening or watching something. It is often used to indicate viewers of a television program or another advertising medium. Audience measurements are expressed as percentages, or as estimated numbers of households or individuals watching or listening to a program.

Audience Composition – Estimates of numbers of people viewing a program or time period, by age, sex, etc.

Audience Duplication – The number or percent of households or individuals reached by one program (or station) that are also reached by another program (or station).

Audience Flow – A measure of the change in audience during and between programs. Audience flow shows the percentages of people or households who turn on or off a program, switch to or from another channel, or remain on the same channel as the previous program.


Audilog – An early version of the paper diary used by Nielsen Media Research to gather demographic data from households in its national sample. Audilogs were introduced in 1953, and placed in sample homes already equipped with Recordimeters. These meters verified the accuracy and completeness of the diary entries by automatically recording total minutes of TV usage daily. The Recordimeter’s presence, usually on top of the TV, also reminded households to write down viewing information in the diary. Nielsen Media Research no longer uses the combination of meter and diary measurement devices in the same panel.

Audience Turnover – The ratio of cumulative to average quarter-hour audiences. Turnover is a valuable index of the consistency of an audience. If turnover equals 1.0, all the station’s audience for a given time period or daypart is tuned in during the average quarter hour of the daypart. If turnover equals 2.0, there are twice as many persons in the cume audience of the daypart as in the quarter hour.

Audio – The sound portion of a television or radio broadcast signal.

Availability – Time on a station, cable channel or network which is offered for sale.  Also know as an Avail.

Avail – see Availability.

Average – A statistical measure. The most common average is arithmetic mean. This is computed by adding a group of values together and dividing by the total number of values in the group.

Average Audience (AA) – A widely used rating term, expressed as a percentage, to reflect viewing to the average minute of a program or time period. It is an average of the audience at minute 1, 2, 3, etc. As such, it serves as an estimate of the average commercial audience (households or persons).

Average Episodes Per Viewing Household/Person – The average number of quarter-hours viewed by each household/person reached.

Average Frequency – The average number of times households or persons viewed a given program, station or advertisement during a specific time period. This number is derived by dividing the Gross Ratings Points (GRPs) by the total non-duplicated audience (cume). For example, if a group of programs has achieved 30 GRPs and a cume of 20, then the average frequency is 1.5 exposures per person or household. The term is interchangeable with frequency.

Average Hours – The average number of hours viewed per TV household, per day, per week, or per time period.

Average Quarter Hour (AQH) – The number of persons or households estimated to be tuned to a specific channel or program for at least five minutes during an average fifteen minute period.

“B” Counties – The classification of counties based on Census household counts and metropolitan proximity. “B” counties are counties not defined as A counties that have more than 85,000 households. The combined counties contain 30% of United States households.

Back Data – The period or periods of data prior to the most current period. Often referred to as Historical Data.

Barker Channel – Cable channel dedicated exclusively on a cable system to promoting Pay-Per-View (PPV) events.

Bandwidth – In a general sense, this term describes information-carrying capacity. It can apply to radio frequency signals, telephone or network wiring as well as system buses and monitors. In broadcasting parlance, this is a section of the radio frequency spectrum needed to transmit visually, aurally or both. The bandwidth of the average television channel is 6 million cycles per second (6 MHZ). In Internet parlance, it’s also common to use bits or bytes per second (e.g., A T1 line has a bandwidth of 1.544 megabits per second).

Banners – Advertisements on a Web page that link to an advertiser’s site. They are the most common unit of advertising on the Web.

Barter – The exchange of quantities of commercial time for merchandise or services.

Barter Syndication – A program distribution method in which the syndicator retains and sells a portion of the show’s advertising time. In “cash plus barter,” the syndicator also receives some money from the station on which the program airs.

Basic Cable – Channels received by cable subscribers at no extra charge, usually supported by advertising and small per-subscriber fees paid by cable operators.

Bicycling – A term used in syndication. The distribution of programs (film or videotape) to stations by means other than electronic transmission, such as mail.

Billboard – An announcement at the beginning or end of program naming the sponsor(s) or participating advertiser(s). Usually only 10 seconds.

Blackout – When a home sporting event is not carried by local TV because of contractual agreement or regulations imposed by a league.

Blanking Interval – Portion of TV signal used for transmission of words or text. Also called, Vertical Blanking Interval.

Block Programming – Series of programs with common demographic appeal scheduled one after another.

BMP – The standard Windows image format on DOS and Windows-compatible computers.

Bonus Spot – A commercial given to the advertiser without cost either to make up for undelivered audience (in this case they are called “Make Goods”), or as an inducement to buy additional spots.

Bookmark – A browser feature that allows a user to save a link to a Web page.

Break – The time between two programs or program segments used for announcements, news briefs, credits or commercials.

Break-up Value – Also called a “private market value,” the estimated worth of a company when its assets are sold.

Bridging – Programming maneuver to damage a competing show by starting 30 minutes earlier, thus gaining the advantage of being in progress when the other show(s) begins.

Broadband Advertising – Advertising that is optimized for high-speed delivery (typically T-1 speed or greater).

Broadband Communications – Distribution network that carries a large number of channels spread out over a wide bandwidth. Bandwidth is defined as the numerical difference between the highest and lowest frequency in use.

Broadcast Coverage Area – The geographic area that receives a signal from an originating television station.

Broadcasting – Signals transmitted over-the-air for television or radio for use by the general public.

Browser – Also called a Web browser. A software application that allows users to locate and display information on the Web.

Buying Service – A firm primarily engaged in purchasing media.

Buying Service – A firm primarily engaged in purchasing media.

“C” Counties – The classification of counties based on Census household counts and metropolitan proximity. “C” counties are counties not defined as A or B counties that have more than 20,000 households or are in Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas or Metropolitan Statistical Areas with more than 20,000 households. . The combined counties contain 15% of United States households.

CAB – (1) See Cable Advertising Bureau  (2) See Canadian Association of Broadcasters

Cable Activity Report – A syndicated report from Nielsen Media Research that provides cable networks with average and cumulative household audience information by daypart for both cable and broadcast networks. A companion report, called the Audience Composition Report, contains Viewers-per-1000 Viewing Households (VPVHs) for the same cable networks across the same dayparts.

Cable Advertising Bureau (CAB) – A trade organization established by the cable industry to provide promotional, sales and advisory services to the cable industry

Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 – This was a package of amendments to the Communications Act that liberated cable from burdensome regulations and paved the way for the growth of cable TV in the U.S.

Cable Converter – Equipment in the homes of cable subscribers used to convert cable signals to normal TV channels. Sophisticated, “addressable” cable converters also allow cable operators to activate, disconnect or unscramble the signal received by a subscriber.

Cable Modem – A modem designed to operate over cable TV lines. Because the coaxial cable used by cable TV provides much greater bandwidth than telephone lines, a cable modem can be used to achieve extremely fast access to the World Wide Web. Cable modems that offer speeds of up to 2 megabits per second are already available in many areas.

Cable National Audience Demographics Report (CNAD) – Published quarterly by Nielsen Media Research, this syndicated report provides cable networks with estimates of television viewership for both households and persons across many market breaks or household categories (territory, county size, cable status, household size, children, income, etc.). The information enables cable networks to identify geo-demographic segments to which their network or other cable networks appeal.

Cable On-line Data Exchange (CODE) – A Nielsen Media Research database containing information on more than 10,000 local cable TV systems in the U.S. This system is used by cable networks to support affiliate sales. For example, cable networks can locate cable systems with available channels, or evaluate a cable network’s channel position across systems, and monitor carriage changes on an on-going basis.

Cable Origination – Programming originated by cable television exclusive of broadcast signals.

Cable Passed – Percentage of TV households that are able to receive cable TV.

Cable Penetration – The proportion of cable subscriber homes to all television homes in an area. This figure is expressed as a percentage. For example, if cable television is in 50,000 households in a market, and the number of TV households in the same market is 450,000, the cable penetration is 11.1%.

Cable Plus – Based on a household’s ability to receive cable channels via a wire to the home from a cable headend located in the community or via any other alternate delivery source (ADS) such as C-Band Satellite Dish, Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) TV Systems, Wireless cable, etc. 

Cable System Operator – The person or company that owns and maintains and is responsible for the cable television system(s) in one or more communities.

Cable TV System – A non-broadcast facility which distributes signals of one or more television stations and non-broadcast services to subscribers. There are approximately 11,000 cable systems in the U.S.

Cache – Area of a computer’s memory or directory where the browser stores viewed Web pages.

Call Letters – Letters assigned to broadcast stations by the FCC, by which stations identify themselves. In general, stations east of the Mississippi River have call letters beginning with W; those west of the Mississippi have call letters beginning with K.

Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) – A trade organization that represents the majority of private radio, television and specialty television services in Canada.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) – One of Canada’s networks, operated as a Crown corporation. The network operates both an English-language and French-language services and has coverage throughout all regions in Canada.

Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) – Established in 1968 under provisions of the Broadcasting Act, this independent agency regulates and supervises all aspects of the Canadian television system. It is the equivalent to the FCC in the U.S.

Cassandra – A computerized program analysis system from Nielsen Media Research that provides telecast information for selected nationally distributed syndicated programs on a market-by-market basis.

CATV — Community Antenna Television; another name for cable television. Abbreviation was first used in the early days of cable television by Al Warren, publisher/founder of industry newsletter Television Digest.

C-Band Satellite Dish – A large ‘backyard’ satellite dish that receives programming at lower frequency signals (between 3.7 to 4.3 GHZ.).

CBC – see Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Census – A complete count of a population or universe.

Census Tract – A small, relatively permanent statistical subdivision of a county established by the U.S. Census and designed to be homogenous with respect to population characteristics, economic status, and living conditions. Tracts usually have between 2,500 and 8,000 residents.

Channel – A frequency band assigned by the FCC for AM, FM or TV transmission. Each broadcast television station is permitted to operate on only one channel. Channels are assigned geographically to minimize interference between stations. A “channel” is also a Web site that automatically delivers information to the user’s computer at times specified by the user. Any Web site can be a channel.

Channel Capacity – The number of channels or signals available to subscribers of a cable television system.

Character Generator – A studio device for electronically projecting text across a television screen.

Checkerboarding – The standard method of scheduling programs in prime time by offering different programs in the same time period every night. This is the opposite of “strip” programming, in which the same series airs different episodes in the same time period every day. Strip program scheduling is the prevailing form for all other dayparts except prime time.

Churn – Turnover of cable subscribers as a result of disconnects and new customers.

Clearance – An affiliated broadcast station or cable system’s pledge to carry a specific broadcast or cable network program. Advertisers are attracted to network programs as an advertising vehicle partly by the number of stations or cable outlets providing clearance.

Click Rate – An Internet term indicating the number of times which an advertisement banner was clicked on at a Web site.

Click-Through – An Internet term used to measure the success a Web site has in persuading a user to go to another site.

Clio Awards – Awards given for excellence in television and radio advertising.

Closed Caption (CC) – Visual captioning on a television screen for the hearing impaired that superimposes subtitles on programs. Distributed via Line 21 of the Vertical Blanking Interval, CC requires a decoder to view it.

Closed Circuit – Television which does not go out over-the-air and into homes.

Cluster – (1) Grouping several commercials together during one break.  (2) In statistical terms, a group of a statistical population. Alternately, a cluster can be the classification of demographically similar geographic areas into one or more homogeneous groups. Each group represents distinctive lifestyles patterns and offers a basis for segmenting the market.

Cluster Sample – The elements from the population occur in, or are combined into, groups called clusters. These are then randomly selected for surveying purposes. In a single-stage cluster sample, every element in that cluster is surveyed. In multi-stage cluster samples not every element is surveyed. An example of a cluster is a block group.

Clutter – All of the extraneous non-program elements within a given program or time period, e.g., program titles, billboards, station promos, commercials, network identification, local station identification, public service announcements, etc.

Coincidental Interview (Coincidental) – In sample research, an interviewing method conducted by telephone or in person. A process by which an interviewer questions a respondent on his/her television viewing activity at the moment the interview is being conducted. 

Commercial – Advertisement, announcement, spot or message aired on television, radio or cable which is paid for by an advertiser

Committee on Local Television and Radio Audience Measurement (COLTRAM) – Organization founded in 1964, under the auspices of the National Association of Broadcasters, to review methodologies used in local rating surveys. Its members include research directors of major station groups, station representatives, etc.

Committee on Nationwide Television Audience Measurement (CONTAM) – Industry group established in 1963 to evaluate the network audience estimates provided by Nielsen Media Research.

Common Carrier – The FCC’s class of transmission systems, such as telephone, telegraph and certain satellites, open to public use at uniform fees and generally not permitted to control content.

Communications Act of 1934 – The federal act which established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and defined its authority.

Communications Satellite – A space vehicle which receives TV and radio signals and transmits them back to earth. It is located 22,300 miles above earth in a geosynchronous orbit so that it is stationary in relationship to a fixed position on earth.

Comparative Renewal – The process by which the FCC decides whether to renew a broadcaster’s station license upon its expiration or to award it to a rival applicant.

Compulsory License – The right of cable systems and certain other delivery media to retransmit copyrighted material in broadcast signals without the consent of the copyright owner for payment of a government-set royalty based on the system’s gross revenues.

Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) – A computer/telephone interface system used by Nielsen Media Research to recruit sample households.

COMSAT (Communications Satellite Corp.) – A publicly owned common carrier which operates communications satellite service under Congressional mandate.

Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area – A Metropolitan Statistical Area with a population greater than 1 million. (See also, Metropolitan Statistical Area).

CONTAM – See, Committee on Nationwide Television Audience Measurement.

Cookie – Identification messages given to a Web browser by a Web server. The browser on an individual’s computer stores the message in a text file called cookie.txt. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. The main purpose of cookies is to identify users (consumers) and prepare customized Web pages (offering information, advertising, goods or services) for them. Cookies can include passwords and Web site preferences, as well as a history of the other sites visited, e-mail information, etc. Cookies themselves are not gathering data, but they are used as a tracking device to help the people who are gathering information. More complete information about cookies is available at

Copyright Royalty Tribunal – The defunct federal agency established by the Copyright Revision Act of 1976 to review and adjust royalty rates from a compulsory license and to distribute the cable royalty fund. The Tribunal was dissolved in 1993 and replaced with ad-hoc arbitration panels chosen by the Librarian of Congress.

Co-Sponsorship – Sponsorship of a program by two or more advertisers.

Cost Per Point – An advertising cost calculated by dividing the cost of one or a series of commercial by the size of the audience, expressed in rating points. For example, if the cost of a commercial is $50,000 and the rating for a program is 12, then the cost per point is $4,166.67 ($50,000 divided by 12).

Cost Per Thousand (CPM) – Advertisers’ cost per thousand viewers exposed to a commercial. The total cost for one or a series of commercials is divided by the projected audience shown in thousands. If the cost of a commercial is $50,000 and the projected audience is 4,606,000 (4,606,000 divided by 1,000), then the CPM equals $10.86.

Counter Programming – Method of scheduling programs against opposing stations or networks in an effort to draw audiences away from competing programs.

County Coverage Study – A county-by-county television audience viewing report from Nielsen Station Index (NSI), the local service of Nielsen Media Research.  The report, updated annually, comes in three standard volumes: the county summary, the station summary and the DMA summary. The data also are available by state.

County Size – The classification of counties according to Census household counts and metropolitan proximity. There are four county size classes “A”,”B”,”C”, and “D”. In general, “A” counties are highly urbanized, “B” counties relatively urbanized, “C” counties relatively rural, and “D” counties very rural.

Coverage Area – The number or percentage of TV households that could receive a program. Coverage reflects the ability to view, not actual viewing.

Coverage Area Rating – The estimate of the size of the audience relative to the total number of homes or people that can receive this channel. Coverage Area Ratings are used for each individual cable network. The Coverage Area Rating for one cable network can not be compared to another cable network’s coverage area rating or a broadcast network rating. Only total U.S. Ratings or audience projections (estimated number of households or persons) can be compared between/among networks.

CPM – See Cost Per Thousand

Cross Ownership – Ownership by a single entity of more than one communications medium in a given market.

Cross-Platform Programs – Multiple exposures of a television program on two or more broadcast and/or cable outlets. The ordering customer declares that commercial load is common across each exposure. Average audience (AA%) and Gross Average Audience (GAA%) estimates will be reported in the NTI pocket piece for cross-platform programs when GAA% is ordered by the broadcast network airing the program. If multiple episodes of a program are involved the program will be labeled an AT ( Additional Telecasts) as well as reporting GAA% and AA%. In cases where the commercial load is not completely identical or the measurement window exceeds one week a custom tape may be ordered.

Cume or Cumulative Audience – The non-duplicated audience for one or a series of TV programs or time-periods. It is expressed as a percentage of a given universe. A household or person is counted once, no matter how many times the telecast has been viewed. This is also known as “reach” or “net reach.”

“D” Counties – The classification of counties based on Census household counts and metropolitan proximity. “D” counties are all counties not classified as A,B or C counties. They are considered very rural. The combined counties contain 15% of United States households.

Data – Facts or figures from which conclusions can be drawn. A plural noun.

Daypart – The time segments that divide a radio or TV day for ad scheduling purposes. These segments generally reflect a television station’s programming patterns. The most common dayparts are: prime time, daytime, late night, early morning, total day, sign-on/sign-off, prime access and fringe. There is no universal agreement, however, about the exact times for all these dayparts, and for this reason, Nielsen Media Research reports the data by time of day.

Daytime – See, Daypart.

DBS – See Direct Broadcast Satellite.

Decoder – An electronic device used for converting a scrambled TV signal into a viewable picture.

Dedicated Channel – Usually a cable television channel devoted to a single source for its programming, e.g., a public access channel or a program schedule channel.

Delayed Broadcast (DB) – The broadcast by a local station of a network program at a time later than its regularly scheduled network time.

Demographics – Audience breakdown based on various characteristics such as age, sex, income, education, etc. (Abbr: Demos)

Designated Market Area (DMA) – A term used by Nielsen Media Research to identify an exclusive geographic area of counties in which the home market television stations hold a dominance of total hours viewed. There are 210 DMA’s in the U.S.

Diary – A form on which a sample of respondents is asked to keep a written record of TV viewing or radio listening.

Digital certificate – An electronic method of verifying the identity of a person or corporation; it is essentially a digital signature.  The certificate is designed to prevent fraud or impersonation in Internet-related transactions.

Digital Signals – Information transmitted in discrete pulses rather than as continuous signals. Data is represented by a specific sequence of off-on electrical pulses. (See also, Analog)

Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) – A satellite service whose signal is delivered directly to a viewer’s home via the use of the viewer’s own earth station dish.  DBS is different from traditional satellite systems because they use a smaller more versatile dish to receive programming at higher frequencies (KU-Band).

Distant Signal – A television broadcast station signal not defined by the FCC as “local” to the community in which a cable system is located.

Domain Name – The part of an Internet URL (Universal Resource Locator) selected and registered by an individual, business or organization to represent their web presence. It consists of at least two parts that are separated by “dots.” The last part or suffix indicates the type of site, such as “.edu” for schools, “.gov” for government, and “.com” for commercial business.

Downlink – To receive from a satellite; also, the dish used for reception.

DSL – Digital Subscriber Line. These lines carry data at high speeds over standard copper telephone wires. With DSL, data can be delivered at a rate of 1.5 megabits per second (or around 30 times faster than through a 56K modem). In addition, DSL users can receive voice and data simultaneously, so they can use the Internet and make phone calls on the same line at the same time. 

DMA – See Designated Market Area.

Duopoly Rule (Local TV Multiple Ownership Rule) – An FCC rule under which common ownership of 2 TV stations will be permitted without regard to the stations’ Grade B contours if the stations are in separate Nielsen Designated Market Areas (“DMA”). Also, common ownership of 2 TV stations in the same DMA is allowed if their Grade B contours do not overlap or if 8 independently owned, full-power and operational TV stations will remain post-merger and one of the stations is not among the top four-ranked stations in the market.

Early Fringe – The daypart preceding primetime, usually 4pm to 7:30pm.  The prime access time 7:30pm to 8:00pm may be included. See, Daypart.

Early Morning – See, daypart 

Effective Sample Size – The size of random sample that would provide the same standard error as the actual sampling plan on which a survey result is based.

Electronic News Gathering (ENG) – Use of electronic means for news coverage and transmission in place of using film as an intermediate step. (Excellent summary in Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television, 3d ed.)

E-mail address – An electronic mail address via the Internet

End Rate – The actual rate the advertiser pays for commercial time after all discounts have been applied.

ENG – See Electronic News Gathering.

4A’s – See, American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA).  

Equal Opportunities Rules – Pursuant to Section 315 of the Communications Act, the FCC established rules requiring that if a broadcast station or cable system permits the use of its facilities to one candidate for public office, it must offer equal opportunities to other candidates for that office to use such facilities. News coverage of public office candidates is not considered use of the facilities.

Equal Time –The FCC’s Equal Opportunities Rule (part of Section 315 of the Communications Act) states that if a broadcast station or cable system gives or sells time to one candidate for public office, it must offer equivalent time to other candidates. News shows are exempt.

Fairness Doctrine – The rule repealed in 1987 by the FCC that required broadcasters to devote airtime to important controversial issues and to air contrasting views on those issues.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – An independent U.S. government agency, reporting to Congress, charged with enforcing the Communications Act of 1934.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – An independent U.S. government agency, reporting to Congress, responsible for promoting competition and preventing unfair or deceptive practices in commerce.

Fiber Optics – Transmission lines made of thin glass fibers optimized to carry light waves. Since the frequency of light is higher than radio, more information may be carried.

Financial Interest and Syndication Rules (Fin-Syn) – Rules adopted by the FCC in 1970 that prohibited the broadcast networks from owning or controlling the rebroadcast of prime time network shows. After one of the longest running political battles in broadcast regulatory history, the rules were repealed in 1995. (For a more complete accounting of Fin-Syn, see Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television, 3d ed.)

Firewall – Software or hardware that protects a private network from the public. The purpose of a firewall is to keep unauthorized outsiders from tampering with a computer system, thereby increasing a server’s security.

First-run Syndication – Original programs produced expressly for distribution in syndication, as opposed to network or off-network series whose reruns pass into the syndication market.

Footprint – The geographic area on earth in which a satellite signal can be received.

Fragmentation (Audience) – The increasing number of audience subdivisions which, together, constitute total TV usage. Television audiences are said to be fragmented, for example, across a broad spectrum of video sources: nine broadcast networks, more than 50 cable networks, hundreds of syndicated programs, new DBS services, VCR and video game usage, Internet usage, etc.

Frame – A list, file or some other instrument for identifying the sampling units that have a chance of being selected for a research sample. For example, a list of telephone numbers or housing units.

Frames – A term used to describe the viewing and layout style of a Web site. Frames refer to the simultaneous loading of two or more Web pages within the same screen.

Franchise – A contract between state and /or local government and a cable television service awarding the right to install cable service in a community.

Franchise Area – A geographic area awarded to a cable company as a result of its application to the local government. The area is used for providing cable television to paying subscribers.

Frequency – (1)The average number of times households or persons viewed a given program, station or advertisement during a specific time period, such as one month. This number is derived by dividing the Gross Rating Points (GRP) by the total non-duplicated audience (cume). For example, if a group of programs achieved 30 GRP’s and a cume of 20, then the average frequency would be 1.5 exposures per person or household. (2) A measure of Internet usage. Frequency can be expressed either in average minutes per user per month, or in average page views per month. Average minutes per user per month measures the average amount of time that the average visitor to the site spends on the site during the month. Average page views represents the average number of pages of pages on a Web site or properly viewed by the average visitor to the site during the month. (Source:

Frequency Distribution – The number or percentage of individuals or households that were re-exposed to a program, station or advertisement one time, two tomes, three times, etc.

Frequency Modulation (FM) – See, Modulation

Fringe Time – The evening television hours that precede and follow prime time, usually 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (early fringe) and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. (late fringe), all Eastern Standard Time. The prime access time 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. may be included. (See also, Dayparts)

GAA – See Gross Average Audience.

Geosynchronous Orbit – An orbital path above the earth where satellites can travel at earth’s speed of rotation so that it appears to be stationary in relation to a fixed position on earth.

Grade A and B Contours – Areas in a television station’s coverage pattern where the transmission signals should have specific levels of strength, according to FCC requirements.

Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) – A patented type of graphics file common on the Internet.

Grandfather – An allowance for older businesses to continue operating for a time under conditions that were permitted at the time these businesses were subject to other regulations.

Grazing – The act of constantly flipping through TV channels, watching several shows at once, brought on by the ease of remote-control units and the wider viewing selection that cable TV offers.

Gross Audience – The total number of households or individuals in a television audience viewing for two or more time periods within a schedule of spots or programs without regard to duplication. For example, an individual is counted twice in gross audience if he/she appears in the audience of two of the spots or programs within the schedule.

Gross Average Audience (GAA) Rating – The sum of the percent of households or persons tuning or viewing during the average minute of each telecast of the program, including repeat telecasts during the report interval. Duplicated tuning and viewing to the same program (or its repeat telecast) by the same household during the report period is counted each time.

Gross Impressions – The sum of audiences, in terms of people or households viewing, where there is exposure to the same commercial or program on multiple occasions. Two gross impressions could mean the same person was in the audience on two occasions or that two different people had been exposed only once.

Gross Rating Point (GRP) – A unit of measurement of audience size. It is used to measure the exposure to one or more programs or commercials, without regard to multiple exposures of the same advertising to individuals. One GRP = 1% of TV households.

Hacker – A malicious person who breaks the security of computer systems in order to steal or destroy information.

HDTV – See, High Definition TV.

Head-end – A cable TV facility for signal processing with electronic equipment used to receive and send signals. It is the equipment located at the starting point of the cable system and includes antenna, amplifier and scramblers.

Hertz – A unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second. A measure of electromagnetic frequency that represents the number of complete electrical waves in a second. One kiloHertz (kHz) is one thousand cycles per second; one megaHertz (mHz) is one million; one gigaHertz (gHz) is one billion. U.S VHF television stations are allocated on a band from 54 to 216 mHz.

High Definition Television (HDTV) – An all-digital TV broadcast signal that delivers a high-resolution, wide-screen picture and 6 channels of digital sound. A resolution of 1,080 lines is considered high definition imagery, although 720 lines of progressive scanning has now come to be considered high resolution as well.

Hits – The number of times a program or item of data has been accessed. For example, each time a user downloads a home page on the Web, that is considered one hit to that Web site. Hits also refer to the number of page and/or graphic files requested by visitors.

Home Page – The page that appears each time users start their Web browser. Users can choose any page on the Web as their home page.

Homes Passed – Households with the ability to receive a particular cable service, and which may opt to subscribe.

Host – A computer system that is accessed by a user working at a remote location. The computer system that contains the data is called the host, while the computer at which the user sits is called a remote terminal.

Household – An occupied housing unit. An individual or group of individuals occupying a house, apartment, group of rooms, or single room.

Households Using Television (HUT) – The percentage of all television households in a survey area with one or more sets in use during a specific time period. The sum of the average ratings for a given time period will sometimes be higher than the HUT number because of households viewing multiple programs at the same time. If a household is watching two programs, it is counted toward each program rating but only once toward a HUT number.

Housing Unit – Defined by the Census Bureau as a group of rooms, or a single room, that is occupied (or is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Housing units do not include institutions, barracks, dormitories, and other group quarters.

HTML – Abbreviation for Hyper Text Markup Language, the computer language used to create Web pages. It defines the page layout, fonts, graphics, and hyperlinks to other pages.

HTTP – Abbreviation for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web. HTTP defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what action Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands.

HUT – See Households Using Television.

Hypoing – Boosting audience levels by running a special program, blockbuster movies, or watch-and-win contests during sweeps; a practice designed to generate a higher than normal ratings.

Impressions – Number of homes or individuals exposed to an advertisement or group of advertisements. In Internet parlance, the total number of times an advertising banner has been served to the Web population. To be counted as an impression, the banner has to successfully load on the user’s browser.

Independent Station – A commercial television broadcast station not affiliated with a network.

Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) – A TV delivery service by line-of-sight microwave that the FCC licenses to educational institutions.

In-Tab – In a research sample, the number of households or persons supplying useable information for reports or special tabulations. In-tab is usually expressed as a percent of the sample supplying usable information on an average day.

Interactive Cable – A cable system capable of two way communications, from home-to-system as well as system-to-home. Also called Two-Way Cable.

INTV – See Association of Independent Television Stations.

Interconnect – Several cable systems joined together in a specific area for purpose of selling advertising; also called cable interconnects or regional interconnects.

Internet – The world’s largest Wide Area Network. A collection of computers physically linked by high speed modems and phone lines.

Internet Protocol (IP) – The numerical address for any system connected to the Internet. Every system on the Internet has an IP assigned to it. Also, rules used for transmitting data over a network.

Interstitial – Meaning “in-between;” an advertisement that appears in a separate browser window while the user waits for a Web page to load.

Inventory – Commercial spots available on a station.

Java – Java is a general purpose programming language with a number of features that make the language well suited for use on the World Wide Web. Small Java applications are called Java applets and can be downloaded from a Web server and run on your computer by a Java-compatible Web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer.

JPEG – A JPEG is a type of still-image file found all over the Internet.  Files in this format end in .jpg or .jpeg, and are called JPEG (pronounced “JAY-peg”) files, which stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group.


Kinescope Recording – A record of a television program made by filming it from a television monitor. Before the development of video tape, it was the means of preserving live television programs and news coverage. (For more details, see Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television, 3d ed.).

Ku-band – A narrow-beam signal from a high-powered satellite that can be picked up by a dish as small as a foot square.  Used for DBS.  In contrast, the widebeam C-Band signals from a communications satellite that requires an earth station 12 feet or more in diameter for clear pickup.

LAN – See Local Area Network.

Late Fringe – The daypart following prime time, usually 11 p.m. to 1 AM, Eastern Time.  See, daypart

Late Night – See, daypart

Laugh Track – Laughter mechanically inserted on the soundtrack of a show.

Lead-In – A program that immediately precedes another program on the same station or network.

Lead-Out – The following program on the same station or network.

Leased Channels – Channels made available on cable systems, usually by local franchising authorities, for leasing to members of the public at posted rates, on a common carrier basis. A form of paid public access.

License Renewal – Approval by the FCC of a broadcaster’s privilege to operate for another fixed-year term upon the expiration of the station’s license. (See also, Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television, 3rd Edition.)

Link – Connections between one page or site on the Web and another. Links are mostly identified in highlighted and/or underlined text.

Live – Program, news or sporting event running at the same time that the performance or event is taking place.

Local Advertising – Commercials marketed to a local sales area (vs. national) and placed by local or regional advertisers.

Local Area Network (LAN) – Computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.

Low-power TV Station (LPTV) – A station licensed by the FCC to use low transmitter power, usually in areas not locally served by full-power stations.

Magazine Format – A program made up of varied segments on a variety of subjects or themes.

Mailing List – A automated system that allows people to send e-mail to one address, whereupon their message is copied and sent to all of the other subscribers to the list.

Major Television Market – Usually refers to one of the top 50 television markets (DMAs) in the U.S. in terms of the number of TV households reported by Nielsen Media Research.

Make Good – The commercial time given to advertisers either because an advertisement was preempted or did not receive the exposure that had been agreed to and paid for. (See also, Bonus Spot.)

Master – An original recording from which copies are made.

Master Antenna (MATV) – A single receiving system serving multiple television receivers within the same building or group of buildings.

MDS – See Multipoint Distribution System

Media Mix – The distribution of time and money allocated among TV, radio, print and Internet advertising that makes up the total advertising budget of an advertiser, agency or media buyer.

Media Modeling – the process of quantitatively estimating audience behavior. Modeling is usually contrasted with the process of direct measurement in which meters, diaries, surveys or coincidentals are used to measure the behavior.  Typically when viewing behavior is modeled, a set of measures is adjusted to represent a geographic area, demographic category or consumer target for which there is no direct measurement. Modeling in the broader sense may include any mathematical technique for combining or imputing data, such as ascription, fusion or weighting.

Meter – Any automatic recording device which, when connected to a television set, will monitor the tuning status of that TV set (set on/off, time, duration and channel).

Metro Area – See Metropolitan Statistical Area

Metropolitan Statistical Area – Defined by the Office of Management and Budget. It has a large population nucleus, together with adjacent communities that have a high degree of economic and social integration with that nucleus.  Also known as Metro Area.

Microwave Relay System – A system of radio repeaters mounted on towers, usually spaced up to 50 miles apart, and each consisting of a receiver and transmitter. They are used to interconnect television stations and cable systems. Microwave technology also is used to connect studios to transmitters and for remote television originating equipment to the studio or transmitter, usually used for live news and sports coverage.

Miniseries – Long duration programs with a continuing plot line, made for television and shown as a series of episodes on different evenings.

MMDS – See Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service

Modem – An electronic device or program that enables a computer to transmit data to another computer via telephone lines.

MSO — Multi-System Operator; A company that owns and/or operates more than one cable system.

Multi-channel Multi-point Distribution System (MMDS) – This technology is a carrier service for short distance line of sight transmission of a TV programming to selected locations.  Subscribers use a specialized antenna and converter combination to receive the signal, which may be scrambled to prevent unauthorized reception.


Multipoint Distribution Service (MDS) – A common carrier service used to transmit private TV programming or data to locations within a metropolitan area. It is used to transmit special TV channels to hotels, and to transmit pay TV programs to cable systems.

Multiplexing – The simultaneous transmission, through digital compression technology, of multiple television programs on the same channel. In more traditional cable television parlance, multiplexing refers to the use of two or more channels to present the same lineup but at different times on each channel.

Multiple Ownership Rules (Also called National Broadcast Ownership Limits) – FCC regulations limiting broadcast station ownership by any single entity. The rules currently limit a broadcast entity from owning stations covering more than 35% of U.S. TV homes.

Must-Carry Rule –– An FCC requirement that a cable system carry certain qualified local TV commercial stations and non-commercial educational TV stations as follows: (1) a cable system with 12 or fewer usable activated channels shall carry the signals of at least 3 local commercial stations and one non-commercial station; (2) a cable system with more than 12 usable activated channels shall carry the signals of local commercial television stations up to one-third of the aggregate number of usable activated channels of such system; (3) a cable system with 13 to 36 usable activated channels shall carry no more than 3 non-commercial stations; and (4) a cable system with 37 or more usable activated channels shall carry all non-duplicative non-commercial stations that request carriage.

Multi-System Operator (MSO) – A company that owns and/or operates more than one cable system.

National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) – The major trade association of the U.S. broadcasting industry. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) – Organization for TV program directors formed in 1962. The annual NATPE conference and program exposition serves as an international showcase for the U.S. syndication industry. NATPE is based in Los Angeles.

National Audience Demographics Report (NAD) – One of the most comprehensive reports on television viewing behavior produced by Nielsen Media Research. This report, available to customers in both published and electronic editions, provides a multi-dimensional picture of the television audience. It is updated monthly. The NAD report covers broadcast network and syndicated programming. The CNAD report provides similar information for cable network television.

National Cable Television Association (NCTA) – The major trade association representing the cable television industry. Headquartered in Washington, D.C.

National Reports & Services Directory – A comprehensive listing of Nielsen Media Research’s national reports and services, along with their suggested uses and availability.

Narrowcasting – Programs oriented toward specific demographic audiences or limited interest groups, rather than to the broadest possible mass audience.

Net Reach – see Reach

Network – A program distributor interconnected with stations or cable systems for the distribution of programming.

Network Compensation – Money received by affiliated stations from networks in exchange for airing network programs and commercials.

Network Feeds – Transmission of network programming to affiliated stations or cable systems.

Network Non-Duplication Rules – FCC rules which allow a TV broadcast station that has purchased exclusive rights to network programming within a specified area to protect its exclusivity on local cable systems. The rules allow a local TV station to demand that a local cable system’s duplicate carriage of the same program from an otherwise distant broadcast station be blocked out.

Non-Response Error – The error in a sample survey resulting from the failure to obtain information from a designated respondent for any reason. To the extent that respondents and non-respondents differ, a bias is created in the survey results.

Novela – Spanish language television version of the soap opera.

O-&-O Station – A local station owned and operated by a network.

Off-Air – Direct reception of TV signals broadcast over-the-air.

Off-Network – Former network programs offered to stations or cable in syndication.

One-to-a-Market Rule (Also called, Radio/Television Cross-Ownership Rules) – FCC rules permitting a party to own up to 2 TV stations (provided this is permitted under the Duopoly Rule) and any of the following radio station combinations in the same market: (1) up to 6 radio stations in any market where at least 20 independent voices (e.g., TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and a cable system) would remain post-merger; (2) up to 4 radio stations in any market where at least 10 independent voices would remain post-merger; or (3) 1 radio station notwithstanding the number of independent voices in the market. (For more information on TV ownership rules, see Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television, 3rd Edition.)

One Time Only (OTO) – Broadcast of a program or commercial only once, usually in syndication.

Online Service – A company or business that provides customers with Internet access services.

Overbuild – A cable system built in an area where another cable system has established service.

Overnights – Local metered-market ratings service of Nielsen Station Index (NSI) in which household ratings and shares are provided to clients the morning following the day or evening of telecast.

People Meter – An electronic metering device attached to a TV set to measure tuning status (set on/off, channel, time, and duration of tuning) as well as demographic data (who is watching). Household members and their guests push buttons to identify themselves. The People Meter is used by Nielsen Media Research to measure nationwide audience measurement in the U.S. and Canada. (See also, Audimeter)

Persons Rankings – Ranking of TV programs (highest to lowest) based on the number of persons reached by selected age groups (Women 18-34, etc. See also, Demographics).

Persons Using Television (PUT) – The percentage of persons using television at a given time. May be qualified by demographic group.

Piggyback – A commercial announcement by a signal advertiser which combines two different product commercials.

Pocketpiece – Printed weekly ratings report from Nielsen Media Research which earned its nickname because it was designed to fit into an inside coat pocket. Separate pocketpieces are used for broadcast networks, syndication, and for each cable network. The reports are part of a much larger ratings database distributed electronically to customers.

Pod – A group of commercials, promos or announcements contained in a television program break.

Port – A place where information goes into or out of a computer. Also, an Internet term that refers to a number that is part of a URL address.

Posting – A single message entered into a network communications system.

Postproduction – Everything done to a film or video after it is shot with a camera but before it airs.

Pre-designated Sample – Households or people initially chosen for a research survey.

Preemption – The temporary replacement of one program by another.

Prime Access – The prime access time is 7:30pm to 8pm. See, Daypart of Fringe.

Prime Time – Peak evening television viewing time, most often 8-11PM, Monday through Saturday, and 7-11 PM Sunday (EST). (See also, Dayparts)

Prime Time Access Rule (PTAR) – An FCC rule, adopted in 1970 and repealed in 1996, which prohibited network-affiliated stations in the top 50 television markets from airing more than three hours of network or former network programs during the four prime time viewing hours, between 7 and 11 PM (EST). (See also, Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television, 3rd Edition)

Probability Sample – A research sample in which the elements are selected from a sampling frame with a known, non-zero probability of selection. Some common types of probability samples are:

Simple random sample: Each element is selected at random from the population as a whole;

Stratified sampling: The original sampling frame is divided into mutually exclusive sub-frames (strata) and separate and independent samples are selected from each strata.

Multi-stage samples: Sampling elements are selected in stages. For example, the first stage might involve selecting block groups within counties. The second stage might then be a sampling of blocks. Different frames and different elements are usually used at each stage. The probabilities of selecting each element are known for each stage of selection.

Cluster Sample: The sample elements are groups of units and not individual units. Each element is identified with only one cluster in the selection process.

Projected Audience – Expressing or projecting a rating in terms of the estimated number of households or persons reached.

PSA – See Public Service Announcement

Public, Educational, and Government (PEG) Access Channels – Channels on cable systems that local franchising authorities are authorized (pursuant to Section 611 of the Communications Act) to require a cable operator to set aside for public, educational, or governmental use by the franchising authority.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) – Distribution network and representative organization of public TV.

Public Service Announcement (PSA) – An announcement carried by a station, network or cable service, free of charge, for its informational service to the viewer.

Public Television – Non-commercial television supported by federal and state funds, voluntary contributions and grants, offering a variety of programming.

PUT – See Persons Using Television.

Quarter Hour Audience – Individuals viewing a station at least five minutes in a specific 15-minute period.

Quintile – Any of five equal classes or groups within a sample; for example, the heaviest viewing quintile within a sample.

Quota Sample – A sample in which desired sample size or quotas are established for various universe subclasses (controls). The purpose is to insure the characteristics of the sample being examined are distributed in proportion to the characteristics of the total population. Choice of controls vary depending on the survey objectives. Selections of sample elements are not random selections. The probability of selecting an element is often unknown. Some elements may not have any chance of being selected.

Rate Card – A price list showing rates charged for commercial time.

Rating – Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program at once. Ratings are expressed as a percent.

Ratings Point – A value equal to one percent (one rating) of a population or universe.

Reach – (1) In media ratings, the unduplicated number of individuals or households exposed to an advertising medium at least once during the average week for a reported time period.  It is interchangeable with Cumulative Audience and Net Reach. (2) In internet usage, Reach is the percentage of U.S. Internet users that have accessed the Web content of a specific site or property.

Real Audio/Video – A product that works in conjunction with some Internet browsers to enable the user to listen or view live or pre-recorded content in real time.

Regional Network – Group of broadcast stations interconnected for carriage of programs of regional interest, usually sports events.

Reliability – The degree to which a research sample result conforms with the result that would be obtained if a complete census were taken.

Repeaters – Low powered, localized transmitters which automatically pick up the signal of a parent broadcast station and retransmit the amplified signal on the same channel. Used in remote geographical regions.

Rep Firm – A station representative company that sells time on local stations (“spot time”) or cable systems to national advertisers. Such firms are sales agents for large rosters of local stations that otherwise would have no affordable access to national or regional advertisers.

Report on Syndicated Programs (ROSP) – A Nielsen Media Research quarterly report that provides audience profiles, competition and lead-in programs for syndicated programs.

Reruns – Programs repeated sometime after their original presentation.

Residuals – Fees paid to performers and other creative talent for subsequent exposures of their filmed or video programs or commercials.

Resolution – Measure of a TV picture’s detail. Horizontal lines of resolution are counted across the TV screen (in a test pattern), and vertical lines of resolution are counted from top to bottom.

Response Rate – In sample research, a calculation of the percentage of initially designated sample units providing a response in a given survey. It may be calculated by dividing the number of pre-designated units (households or persons) in a survey that provide usable information by the total number of pre-designated units. Reflects the ratio of the final in-tab sample among pre-designated units to the total pre-designated sample.

Retransmission Consent Rule – FCC rules under which cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors may not retransmit the signal of a commercial TV or radio broadcaster (with certain exceptions such as certain superstations) without written consent from the broadcaster. The broadcaster’s entire signal must be retransmitted.

Run of Schedule (ROS) – An advertising term that refers to a commercial scheduled at the discretion of a station or cable system to run anywhere in the schedule.

Sample – One or more elements (individuals or households) selected from a universe to represent that universe.

Sample Size – The number of households or individuals selected for a research sample.

Sampling Error – The difference between the survey results obtained with a sample, and the results that would be obtained with a complete study of the entire population using the same procedures used for the sample.

Satellite – Synchronous communications satellite orbiting earth from a stationary position 22,300 miles above the equator and transmitting television and other signals.

Satellite Master Antenna Television (SMATV) – A SMATV usually serves a housing complex or hotel.  Here the television signals are received via satellite and over the air broadcast stations and distributed to the units by coaxial cable.  Households may be charged a fee for maintenance of a SMATV.  

Satellite Receiver – Equipment (a satellite dish) used to obtained a specific communications satellite signal.

Satellite Station – A television station which transmits programs and commercials received from another station to extend the coverage area of the “parent.” It is assigned separate call letters and channel number.

Saturation – Advertising that is heavily concentrated in a short period of time in order to attain maximum reach.

Scatter Market – Unsold national ad time on the broadcast networks that remains after the preseason “up-front” buying period.

Scrambler – An electronic device that alters a broadcast signal transmission by encryption so it can’t be received without a decoder.

Scrambling – Altering a broadcast signal transmission by encryption so it can’t be received without a decoder.

Search Engine – A software tool that searches for information and Web sites on the Internet.

Season Average – Household and persons audience estimates for each program reported as an average of all telecasts.

Sell-Through – In the homevideo business, movies that are sold to consumers rather than rented to them.

Server – A computer or software package that provides information to client software running on other computers.

Sets In Use – Total number of television sets that are turned on at a particular time. This differs from HUT (Homes Using Television), because most households have more than one TV set.

Share (of Audience) – The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. (See also, Rating, which represents tuning or viewing as a percent of the entire population being measured.)

Signal Carriage – Stations carried by a cable system, including local stations which request carriage by system, plus stations which are significantly viewed off-air within the community, plus distant signals imported by the system.

Sign-on/Sign-off – See, Daypart

Simulcast – Joint broadcast by a TV and radio station whereby the TV station carries the video and the radio station carries the stereo sound. A frequency occurrence in public broadcasting.

Siphoning – Drawing an audience away from one medium to another.

SMPTE – See, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

SMTP – Sample Mail Transfer Protocol. The main protocol used to send electronic mail on the Internet.

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) – Professional organization of technical specialists that works at establishing technical standards for lighting, equipment and film.

Sound Bite – A brief statement or excerpt from an interview for use in radio or television news program.

Spam – In Internet parlance, an inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list or other network communications as if it were a broadcast medium by sending the same message to a large number of people who didn’t ask for it.

Spill-In – The percent or numbers of households viewing stations originating from an outside market.

Spill-Out – Television station advertising or programming that go outside the station’s area of origin.

Spot Television – All commercial advertising time either available for sale or purchase from local TV stations. There are two major types of spot advertising:

(1)- Local Spot – Advertising bought on one station in one market. These sales are usually handled by the TV station.

(2)- National Spot – Advertising bought by national advertisers in several markets of their own selection. These sales are handled by the local TV station representatives.

Standard Error – A measure of the margin of error in a survey result attributable to sampling.

Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area – Geography defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget which includes a city of 50,000 or more inhabitants and the county(s) in which it is located.

Station – A broadcast entity licensed to a market by the FCC.

Station Break – The time between programs when a local station identifies itself and airs commercials and/or promotional announcements.

Station Compensation – Money paid by a network to an affiliated station for carrying the network’s programming.

Station Count – The number of stations transmitting a program.

Station Identification – Brief advisories giving the call sign of a broadcast station and its city of license. The FCC requires such IDs on the hour

Station Lineup – Network affiliated stations actually carrying a given network program.

Station Representative – See, Rep Firm.

Station Totals – The overall audience estimate based on ratings data obtained from counties both within and outside a station’s market area.

Sticky – many Web sites try to be “sticky,” which means they aim to offer surfers everything they want without having to leave and go to another site.

Storage Instantaneous Audimeter – See, Audimeter.

Streaming – Playing audio and/or video content immediately as it is downloaded from the Internet, rather than first storing it in a file on the receiving computer. A high-speed Internet connection is necessary.

Stripping – Scheduling a syndicated program at the same time, every day of the week.  This is the opposite of checkerboarding, which is the standard method of scheduling programs on primetime.  See, Checkerboarding

Superstation – A local TV station whose signal is delivered via satellite to cable systems across the country.

Surfing – Using a TV remote to click on one channel after another. Often called grazing. In Internet parlance, such activity is called “browsing,” as the computer’s browser is used to surf the Internet, moving from one web site to another.

Survey Area – The geographic area from which a sample is developed for a study.

Sustaining Program – A program aired by a commercial network or station without advertising support.

Sweeps – Ratings surveys in which local markets are simultaneously measured by a rating service. Nielsen Media Research surveys all 210 local television markets in November, February, May and July (Honolulu, Fairbanks and Juneau are excluded in July). These months are known as sweep months, and the data are used by local stations and cable systems to set local ad rates and to make program decisions.  The term “sweep” dates back to the beginning of local television measurements in the 1950s and refers to how Nielsen Media Research mailed diaries to sample households starting with the East Coast and sweeping across the nation.

Syndicated Exclusivity Rules – Also called “syndex,” FCC rules that allow a local TV broadcast station (as well as a program’s syndicator) with exclusive distribution rights for syndicated programming on local cable systems to require a cable system to black out the syndicated programming as carried by any other television signal shown on such cable system.

Syndication – The business of marketing television programs directly to local stations, including cable systems and cable networks. (For a more complete summary of the U.S. syndication business, see Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television, 3rd Edition.)

T-1 – A leased line, high-speed connection linking a home computer to the Internet, and capable of carrying data at 1.5 million bits per second.

T-3 – A leased line, high speed connection linking a home computer to the Internet, and capable of carrying data at 44.7 million bits per second. Used for full-screen, full motion (streaming) video.

Target Audience – A portion of the TV audience identified (targeted) by an advertiser to be the most likely to purchase its product.

Telco – Telephone company.

Telecast – A television broadcast.

Teletext – Broadcast of text and graphics along with a TV signal for reception on specially equipped sets.

Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) – New York based trade association dedicated to promoting the value of local broadcast television

Television Household – An occupied household having one or more television receivers in use.

Terabyte – About one thousand gigabytes (one million megabytes).

Terminal – A device in one location that enables commands to go to a computer at a different location

Theft of Service – Unauthorized use of a cable system or pay service.

Tiering – Combining cable channels, sometimes both basic and pay, to sell at a package price.

TIFF – The Tagged-Image File Format (TIFF) is used to exchange files between applications and computer platforms.  TIFF is a flexible bitmap image format supported by virtually all paint, image-editing, and page-layout applications.  Also, virtually all desktop scanners can produce TIFF Images.

Time Buying Service – Companies that primarily buy commercial time on local stations and cable systems for resale to advertisers or agencies.

Time Period – An interval of time on a station, cable system or network. Sometimes, but not necessarily, an entire Daypart (prime time, daytime, etc.). In audience research, ratings for time periods are often calculated, as opposed to program averages, for purpose of evaluating station or network performance.

Time Period Rating – Rating calculated for a specific time interval, such as 15 or 30 minutes, as opposed to a specific program.

Total Audience – Percent of households tuning to all or to any portion of a program for at least 6 minutes.

Total Day – See, Daypart

Total Telephone Frame (TTF) Sample – A sample of telephone numbers (listed and unlisted) used by Nielsen Station Index to identify and recruit households into its local samples.

Traffic Department – The department at a station or network that keeps track of program logs, schedules commercials, etc.

Translators – Low-powered relay facilities used by television stations to carry their signals beyond the normal coverage area into remote areas. Usually situated in high terrain, the translator receives the over-the-air signal of a station and re-transmits it (usually with more power) on another unused channel in a prescribed direction.

Transponder – A communications satellite component that receives and retransmits a TV signal or other data communications.

TVB – See Television Bureau of Advertising.

Two-Way Cable — See, Interactive Cable.

UHF Stations – Ultra High Frequency. That part of the spectrum used by television channels 14 through 83. This is the 470 to 800 mHz band.

Unduplicated Audience – See Cume or Cumulative Audience.

Unique Audience – The number of unique individuals who have visited a Web site at least once in the reporting period.

UNIX – A multi-purpose computer operating system designed to be used by many users at the same time.

Universe – The population chosen for research study. Universe estimates are the estimated number of actual households or people from which the sample will be taken and to which data from the sample will be projected.

Upfront – The first selling wave for the broadcast or cable networks. It usually occurs in the spring after the new fall schedules have been announced and presented to major advertisers. The commercial time not sold in the upfront, is sold later in the season in the scatter market.

Uplink – A satellite dish capable of relaying television signals from earth to the correct satellite transponder.

URL – Uniform Resource Locator. It describes the location and access method of a resource (Web page) on the Internet.

VBI (Vertical Blanking Interval) – see, Blanking Interval

VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) – A machine attached to a television set used to record TV broadcasts for later viewing or to play pre-recorded video programming.

VHF (Very High Frequency) – Television Channels 2 through 13 (54 to 216 mHz).

VHS (Video Home Systems) – Homevideo format based on half-inch wide video tape housed in a cassette.

Video Compression – Digital technology that compresses video and audio transmissions so that more data can be transmitted. This allows for expansion of broadcast, cable and satellite channels.

Video Disc – A disc on which video and audio information is stored (or recorded) for playback through a home television receiver.

Video Tape – A magnetic tape which may record and play back both picture and sound.

Videotext – Various electronic text systems that allow printed information to be called up on a television screen.

Viewers Per Viewing Household (VPVH) – Estimated number of viewers, usually classified by age and sex, comprising the audience within those households viewing a given station or program or using television during a particular time period. Also called Viewers Per Tuning Household (VPTH).

ViP (Viewers in Profile) – The local television ratings book from Nielsen Media Research, issued 3-7 times a year for each of the 210 television markets in the U.S.

Web Pages – Internet documents, or pages on a Web Site, formatted in a language called HTML, which can include text, graphics, animation, audio and video files.

Web Server – A web server is a computer permanently connected to the Internet that serves information, files, Web pages, and other services to any client (e.g., computer with browser) that logs onto it and requests them.

Web Site – Location for an organization’s presence on the World Wide Web. Usually it consists of a collection of Web Pages.

Weighted Average – A statistical quantity calculated by multiplying each value in a group by an assigned weight, summing these products and dividing the total by the sum of the weights .

Weighting – A weight is a numerical value assigned to each unit of the sample. Weighting is the process of multiplying the unit data by the unit weight and then summing these weighted values across all units of the sample.

Window – The period during which a network or other distributor has contractual rights to show or sell a program.

Wired Cable – The household is wired for cable, e.g. receives cable via a wire to the home from a cable headend located in the community.  If a home is “wired” to receive cable channels on any TV set in the home, then the home is considered a “wired” cable home. 

WWW – World Wide Web.

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Zapping – Changing the TV channel by remote control to avoid a commercial.

Zipping – Similar to Zapping. Fast-forwarding through commercials when playing back a program on a VCR.

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