NEWS7 March 2013

Appeals court sides with Nielsen in dismissal of Sunbeam’s antitrust case

Legal North America

US — The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has dismissed Sunbeam Television Corporation’s appeal against an earlier dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit brought against TV ratings company Nielsen.

Sunbeam had accused the research firm of abusing its dominant market position by introducing a new audience measurement system which was alleged to have contained flaws that led to an undercounting of the audience for Sunbeam’s Miami TV channel WSVN, causing it to lose ad revenue.

In addition, Sunbeam had accused Nielsen of using its dominant position to prevent new competitors entering the local ratings market.

In January 2011, the district court dismissed the case stating that Sunbeam had failed to establish the existence of a “willing and able” competitor which had been excluded from competing against Nielsen. In addition, the court said it had failed to show that WSVN’s current ratings were less accurate than they would be under a competitor’s methodology.

However, the appeals court this week sided with the lower court’s ruling. “The district court correctly held that Sunbeam lacked antitrust standing to pursue this lawsuit as it failed to establish that it was an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws,” judges said.