NEWS2 March 2011

Publisher threatens Nielsen over ‘flawed’ figures

Asia Pacific Legal

MALAYSIA— Newspaper publisher Sun Media Corporation (SMC) has threatened legal proceedings against Nielsen, accusing it of operating a “flawed and erroneous” measurement system that undercounts the readership of its flagship publication, The Sun.

SMC managing director Chan Kien Sing said in a front page article that the company had previously “taken issue” with Nielsen’s “false, grossly underestimated and misleading” figures, which it claims has damaged its trading reputation and caused “substantial” financial damages.

Sing said: “We had engaged with Nielsen in the past to put forward our case in an attempt to convince Nielsen to consider other relevant factors that will impact its research methodology and conclusion, and prove that its readership estimates of The Sun are false and inaccurate. However, our efforts and engagement with Nielsen have been unsuccessful as Nielsen has completely and consistently disregarded SMC’s views and input.”

Nielsen’s latest readership estimate gives The Sun a daily readership of 131,000 – compared to 236,000 and 1m for its rivals the New Straits Times and The Star. But SMC points to a daily audited circulation figure of 300,000 for the period between June 2009 and June 2010, which is higher than both its competitors.

Sing said: “Logic and basic common sense dictate that Nielsen’s readership estimates for The Sun cannot possibly be less than ABC’s audited circulation figures. In fact, we estimate our daily readership numbers to be in the region of 900,000.

“Whilst we fully appreciate that circulation numbers and readership estimates are different concepts, we believe it is Nielsen’s obligation and responsibility to take into consideration other relevant empirical evidence, especially the ABC figures, when the estimates derived from random sampling surveys and theoretical extrapolation by Nielsen have resulted in such contradictory findings.”

In a statement, Nielsen said it does not comment on “commercial disputes between industry competitors… We stand by the accuracy of our data analysis and insights.”