Sunbeam Television's lawsuit
against Nielsen Media Research, filed in April 2009 and alleging that Nielsen
had a monopoly and grossly undercounted viewership, has survived an effort by
Nielsen to have the suit dismissed. Judge Paul C. Huck of the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has ordered Nielsen
to file "an answer to the second amended complaint" by March 25.
Sunbeam is suing Nielsen for violation of the federal and
state antitrust laws, violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade
Practices Act and breach of contract. The court had rejected another Nielsen
motion to dismiss earlier this year.
Sunbeam owns WSVN Miami and
WHDH-WLVI Boston. Miami
officially switched on the Local People Meters (LPMs) in October 2008. Station
executives frequently bemoan the arrival of LPMs, but rarely sue Nielsen; Ansin
told B&C that the new ratings
measurement decimated WSVN's viewership-and revenue.
"We lost half our young audience
when Nielsen introduced Local People Meters," he said last year. "We
haven't been able to get them back since."
When it leveled the suit last
spring, Sunbeam said "television stations such as WSVN are left with no choice
but to purchase Nielsen's ratings in order to market air time to advertisers.
Sunbeam alleges that Nielsen has abused its monopoly position by charging
artificially high prices, offering inferior and flawed ratings services in a
take-it-or-leave-it basis, and engaging in exclusionary tactics to prevent
competitors from gaining a foothold in the industry."
judge in this case has repeatedly expressed his concern as to the merits of
Sunbeam's claims," said a Nielsen statement. "We look forward to proving that Sunbeam's claims, are,
in fact, completely without merit."
Sunbeam is owned by EdAnsin.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.