NEWS11 June 2009

Nielsen files to dismiss Sunbeam case

Legal North America

US— Nielsen has moved to dismiss Sunbeam Television’s anti-trust case against it, claiming the broadcaster’s allegations are not sufficient to warrant a court trial.

Sunbeam launched legal proceedings in early May, claiming that Nielsen’s TV ratings business was a “monopoly”. It also claimed that it used its dominant market position to force local people meters (LPMs) on customers in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale regions, which delivered “defective, wildly inaccurate ratings data”. The broadcaster said the introduction of LPMs, Nielsen’s failure to provide reliable data and its failure to exercise due care and good industry practises amounted to a breach of the contract agreed between the two in November 2007.

However, Nielsen’s lawyers have now said: “None of these allegations of monopolistic abuse states an anti-trust claim,” citing several recent legal precedents. The firm said that Sunbeam’s allegations that it unlawfully excluded competitors did not meet the ‘Twombly Standard’, a 2007 precedent which states that a “plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitlement to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause action will not do”.

Nielsen also said that Sunbeam’s allegations of exclusionary behaviour were “conclusory and insufficient” and that its ratings were opinions and as such protected by the First Amendment, and cannot give rise to anti-trust liability.

A two-week civil jury trial has been slated to start in Miami on 21 December.