Corpus Christi Ratings Book in Limbo

It looks as though Corpus Christi, Texas, won’t be getting its ratings book Wednesday.

According to Eagle Creek Broadcasting President Brian Brady, a hearing on his company’s court challenge to Nielsen’s decision to delist KZTV(TV), Corpus Christi from the November book will extend past Tuesday, as will the restraining order against releasing the book. Brady, who was in town for the hearing, would not comment further.

Eagle Creek and Nielsen Media Research have each filed suit over the November ratings book. Nielsen has filed for trademark infringement and breach of contract in a Corpus Christi federal court, while Eagle Creek has filed in state court there, also charging breach of contract. Eagle Creek also sought the restraining order to prevent Nielsen from mailing out the book until after the hearing.

Nielsen last week informed KZTV it was being dropped from the book after the station aired a sweeps promo using a Nielsen rating book graphic; Nielsen rules forbid stations from targeting diary households. Brady has countered that KZTV was just trying to make sure Nielsen families already tuned to the station recorded that fact accurately and that the penalty imposed by Nielsen was too harsh. He also accused Nielsen of using the delisting as a weapon in ongoing contract renegotiations, an accusation Nielsen flatly denied saying the only contract involved was the current one prohibiting promos like the one KZTV aired.

Other stations were expected to weigh in at the hearing, arguing that they will be damaged if Nielsen does not release the book on time. "Your advertisers and all of your planning is based on an assumed delivery within a few days of the rating book," says Bill Carroll, VP, director of programming, for rep firm Katz Television Group. "Since this is the first measurement of the season, it’s going to be important to have access to the information as soon as possible." A delay "isn’t the end of the world," he said, but timeliness is clearly an issue.

Nielsen planned to ask the state court to yield jurisdiction to the federal court.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.