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Antitrust Suit Against Nielsen Can Proceed

A Florida judge has ruled that startup TV ratings provider ErinMedia can proceed with its antitrust lawsuit against Nielsen Media Research. Judge Susan Bucklew of the U.S. District Court in Tampa dismissed Nielsen’s attempt to have the suit thrown out.

The two sides will now proceed with discovery, which could take up to a year, and then possibly head to trial.

ErinMedia brought the suit against Nielsen in June, claiming Nielsen has a  monopoly on the ratings business that is keeping it from signing up customers for its service, which provides minute-by-minute demographic ratings gleaned from data on cable set-top boxes. “We feel vindicated,” says ErinMedia Chairman and CEO Frank Maggio said of Tuesday’s decision. “We’ve faced some scorn that our case is frivolous and meritless. Clearly, there is merit in what we are claiming.”

ErinMedia has yet to sign up any customers for its service, but Maggio says he is close to a deal with a major cable operator to carry ReacTV. The network would then become ErinMedia’s first client, using data from that cable operator, who he would not name.

The judge threw out an antitrust claim filed by ErinMedia’s sister company, ReacTV, an interactive gaming network also owned by Maggio.

Nielsen said that Maggio is using threats, lawsuits and the media to gain the market's attention.