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11th Circuit Court Ends Sunbeam Television Lawsuit Against Nielsen

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WSVN 7News MiamiWSVN parent company Sunbeam Television’s legal battle with television ratings monopolist Nielsen has ended.

Earlier this month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s dismissal of Sunbeam’s monopolization claim against Nielsen Media Research. All three judges on the 11th Circuit Court agreed with the lower court’s ruling that Sunbeam Television lacks antitrust standing to pursue its claims against Nielsen.

The 11th Circuit employs a two-prong test to determine whether a plaintiff has an antitrust standing. First the plaintiff must establish that it has suffered an antitrust injury and then demonstrate that it is an efficient enforcer of antitrust law. According to the brief, The Court didn’t even bother with the first prong, it went straight to the second, examined whether Sunbeam Television is an “efficient enforcer” and found that unless Sunbeam can show a potential competitor was ready to supply a superior product but for Nielsen’s exclusionary conduct, it cannot bring antitrust claims.

Sunbeam Television filed its lawsuit against Nielsen after the ratings company released it’s LPM (Local People Meters) service in Miami and WSVN experienced a ratings decrease of 50% overnight causing the station to lose over $1,000,000 per month in advertising dollars because of the sudden disparity in viewers. Nielsen on its part insisted everything normal, and that its prior way of measuring ratings via diaries was also flawless.

The 11th Circuit agreed with Sunbeam Television on one thing, that Nielsen “[...] exercises monopoly power over the television audience measurement services industry, both nationally, for the United States as a whole, and for all 210 markets.”

Maybe Rentrak will gain traction, WPLG are already using their service.

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