NEWS29 August 2012

WPP moves to dismiss NDTV’s Indian ratings lawsuit

Asia Pacific Legal North America

US— Lawyers acting for WPP have moved to dismiss NDTV’s lawsuit over alleged manipulation of Indian TV ratings data, criticising the case as “a desperate attempt… to drum up media coverage”.

WPP’s legal team cites insufficiency of service, lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a cause of action as grounds for dismissing the case. It will present its argument to the courts on or after 13 September.

NDTV filed a 194-page complaint in July alleging that TV ratings data produced by TAM Media Research – a company jointly owned by Nielsen and WPP’s Kantar – were being manipulated “in favour of channels that are willing to covertly provide monetary inducements/payments/bribes to TAM officials”.

NDTV claimed that “wilful negligence and manipulation” of TAM’s viewership data has been going on “since at least 2004” and that the channel’s own ratings and ad revenue has suffered because it has “refused to indulge in any corrupt practices”. NDTV says it has lost at least $810m over the years because of the alleged false ratings data. It is seeking that amount and more in damages.

However, in its own court filings, WPP claims: “This case is nothing more than a desperate attempt by the plaintiff, a television station in New Delhi, India, to drum up media coverage in India to divert attention from the real reasons its programmes have had low audience ratings and its financial performance has been abysmal for five years.”

In seeking a dismissal, WPP alleges that NDTV has flouted “even the most basic rules regarding service of process”. It claims that agents acting on behalf of NDTV “simply left five identical copies of the complaint in a ripped shopping bag with a facilities employee at a building in New York in which none of the moving defendants conducts business”.

On the issue of jurisdiction, WPP argues that “this case is completely about action allegedly taken or not taken in India by Indian companies having an alleged impact on an Indian television station”.