NEWS11 February 2010

Nielsen moves to dismiss latest Sunbeam antitrust complaint

Legal North America

US— Nielsen has made a third bid to dismiss allegations of antitrust violations brought by Sunbeam Television, arguing that the broadcaster has failed to present a substantive claim for monopolistic abuse.

Sunbeam’s case centres on the allegation that the introduction of Nielsen’s local people meter (LPM) technology as the TV measurement tool for the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market has harmed its viewing figures – costing it more than $1m each month in lost advertising revenue.

The broadcaster claims Nielsen used its position as a “monopoly” to force LPMs on the market, despite objections from TV companies, and that its staggered, long-term contracts prevent competitors coming to market and offering an alternative measurement system.

In its latest motion to dismiss, Nielsen says Sunbeam has again failed to show proof in support of its claims that potential competitors were excluded. Sunbeam’s complaint has been dismissed twice before, but on both occassions the broadcaster has been granted leave to amend.

Referring to the most recent dismissal, Nielsen says: “The court held Sunbeam’s antitrust claims deficient for failure to allege that any competitor of Nielsen had the intention and preparedness… to enter the Miami market.”

Turning to Sunbeam’s second amended complaint, filed last month, Nielsen says: “Although it comes close to alleging that certain competitors had the intention to enter Miami or at least contemplated offering some services there at some time, its second amended complaint carefully avoids alleging that any competitor was prepared to enter the Miami market or to offer ratings for broadcast stations.”