WSVN reps have met with Nielsen people in Boston last week for a court ordered mediation that failed to stop a possible trial in January according to MediaPost
The story also says that WSVN owner Sunbeam has a list of more than 100 people who may have information that could be crucial to the case. Among them are executives at CBS, NBC, Comcast and Cox. Sunbeam has also obtained signed contracts between cable operators and Nielsen. Also in the list of potential witnesses, the vice president of Rentrak, Michael Vinson. He was an executive at erinMedia, which challenged Nielsen’s monopoly in an antitrust suit two years ago. That lawsuit never got to court but it was instead settled.
One of the allegations Sunbeam has against Nielsen is that the ratings giant pushed the people meters in South Florida before they were fully baked so it can capture cable’s need for a ratings service. Sunbeam also alleges that WSVN lost more than $1 million dollars per month since October 2008 when Nielsen debuted the LPMs in Miami. The TV station saw 50% of its demo audience disappear the day after LMPs went live and Nielsen has so far claimed that neither the previous ratings measurement method via diaries was flawed nor are the people meters.
Reports from last year had Nielsen publicly state that on average 8% of local people meter ratings were under or over reported because viewers did not properly use the devices.
Sunbeam’s lawsuit also seeks to declare Nielsen an illegal monopoly saying the ratings company engaged in monopolistic practices by allegedly having TV stations sign contracts that forbade them from using the services of another ratings company, thus preventing competitors from entering the television ratings market altogether. Nielsen is the only available ratings service TV stations can use to measure audience and set advertising rates.
Nielsen has filed for an IPO so from now until January there is a chance they could start pushing Sunbeam to settle and keep a lid on things to avoid investor concern should something damning come out or if the trial outcome is unfavorable. Reports about the lawsuit have hinted that the judge who is set to oversee a jury trial would rather bring the two companies to an agreement outside of the court room.