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Univision, Nielsen Resolve Spat Over LPMs

12/05/2004 7:00 PM Eastern

One of the most vocal critics of Local People Meters is still griping about the controversial system, even though Univision Communications Inc. has dropped the lawsuit it brought against Nielsen Media Research this summer over the technology’s rollout.

Don’t Count Us Out, a coalition of black and Hispanic groups that’s been backed by News Corp., last week charged that Nielsen’s alleged monopoly status remains unchallenged. “Nielsen continues to bully anyone who gets in its way,” the group said in a statement.

Univision said it would abandon a complaint it had filed against Nielsen in June, when it sought an injunction to bar the ratings company from launching the LPMs in Los Angeles July 8.

The Hispanic broadcaster claimed Nielsen’s Los Angeles sample had too few young Latinos and overrepresented Hispanic households that spoke mostly or only English.

As part of last week’s settlement, Nielsen withdrew a countermotion it had lodged against the giant Spanish-language broadcaster under California’s Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, statute.

That resolution didn’t mollify Don’t Count Us Out. “Univision and Nielsen have dropped their competing suits, but our deep concerns about Nielsen’s position as an unregulated monopoly have not abated,” the group said. “In fact, this is just another example of Nielsen using its monopoly power to strong-arm critics who raise questions about the company’s fairness and accuracy.”

In its original suit, Univision claimed it would suffer damage from the LPMs because of the “inaccurate and deflated ratings” generated by that methodology.

Nielsen disputed those allegations and filed its own motion against Univision.

A judge declined to halt the LPM launch, which took place in Los Angeles as planned while Univision’s suit, and Nielsen’s counterclaim, were still pending.

Now, both parties are reportedly in talks about Univision’s subscribing to LPM data.

“Univision and Nielsen are continuing their discussions,” a Univision spokeswoman said.

Currently, Univision doesn’t have a contract with Nielsen for LPM data. It does subscribe to the company’s Hispanic ratings service.

There was a nasty public furor earlier this year over Nielsen’s LPM rollout, with black and Hispanic groups and a number of broadcasters, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., claiming that the new technology underrepresented minority-TV viewership.

The Media Ratings Council, which audits ratings systems, has conditionally accredited the technology in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and fully accredited LPMs in Boston.

Next year, Nielsen will roll out LPMs in Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Dallas; and Detroit.

September