Coalition Vows Legal Fight Over Meters

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Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and a member of the Fox-backed Don’t Count Us Out anti-Local People Meter coalition said lawyers for the coalition may file suit in New York to bar Nielsen from launching the LPM there this Thursday.

But Nogales stopped short of saying such a suit would be definitely filed in time, conceding that the group “miscalculated” by assuming that Nielsen would delay when the Media Rating Council withheld accreditation from the service last week. He said Nielsen’s decision to go forward with LPM in New York is “really arrogant.”

Nogales also said the coalition would file suit in California, based on a consumer protection statute there, to bar Nielsen from proceeding with the LPM in Los Angeles in July. “They are using their monopoly position to impact the market considerably, measurably and with adverse economic impact,” to consumers, he said.

If programs favored by minorities are canceled because of faulty ratings, hundreds of jobs could be lost, he said. In addition to a California law suit, the coalition will contact the Attorney General of California shortly to urge that office to launch a separate suit on similar grounds, said Nogales.

A federal civil law suit is also being contemplated. Nogales said Nielsen is “defrauding the public” by going ahead with a service that the coalition believes undercounts minority viewership.

He also said the group would ask the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on Nielsen. L.A. Councilman Bernard Parks said he would ask the City Council to hold hearings as well.

When pressed by reporters, Nogales could not say how active Fox has been in the Coalition's efforts or how much money it has contributed, though he said it was a good question that Fox should be willing to answer.

But Nogales also said that given the viewership losses Fox stations suffer under the meter system, he doesn’t blame them for not staying on the sidelines and says the coalition welcomes any money they want to kick in.--John Eggerton contributed to this report.

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