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Nielsen, KZTV Sue Each Other

KZTV(TV) Corpus Christi, Texas, parent Eagle Creek Broadcasting and Nielsen Media Research have filed suit against each other over the November ratings book.

Nielsen has filed for trademark infringement and breech of contract in a Corpus Christi federal court, while Eagle Creek has filed in a state court there, also charging breach of contract.

Eagle Creek has gotten a restraining order preventing Nielsen from mailing out the book until after a hearing today, which Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus said wouldn’t have happened anyway. Eagle Creek Broadcasting President Brian Brady is in Texas for the hearing.

Nielsen took the unusual step last week of informing KZTV it was being dropped from the book after the station aired a sweeps promo using a Nielsen rating book graphic (hence the charge of trademark infringement). Nielsen’s rules forbid stations from targeting diary households (the alleged breach of contract), but Brady has countered that it was a draconian punishment, that Nielsen should not have deleted it from the book (its breach of contract contention), and that KZTV was just trying to make sure Nielsen families already tuned to the station recorded that fact accurately.

Other stations in the market are expected to weigh in at the hearing arguing that they will be damaged if Nielsen does not release the book. Nielsen is expected to ask the state court to yield jurisdiction to the federal court.