Univision Communications Inc. has sued Nielsen Media Research, claiming that "Local People Meters" in New York and Los Angeles provide false and misleading data about the Spanish-language station group's audience levels, "causing irreparable damage to Univision."
Nielsen says the claims are baseless and that it will fight the suit.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court seeks to enjoin Nielsen from launching the meters in Los Angeles on July 8.
Nielsen is engaged in "unfair, unlawful and deceptive business practices," because the LPM household samples undercount young Hispanic Americans and large Hispanic families and overstates Hispanic households that speak mostly or only English, Univision said. "As a consequence of these flaws, the LPM ratings will materially understate viewing to Spanish-language stations like Univision, and exaggerate viewing to English-language stations."
Univision also accused Nielsen of using "false and misleading advertising and promotion" to market the LPM service to clients. "The sample and the weighting technique currently employed in Nielsen's proposed Los Angeles LPM system - just as in its New York LPM system - will result in a seriously flawed measuring tool and, as a result, Hispanic media and the Hispanic community in general will be unfairly prejudiced."
In addition to enjoining Nielsen from launching the Los Angeles LPM, Univision asked the court for libel damages and also asked that Nielsen be stopped from using false and misleading advertising pertaining to the LPM service.
Nielsen vowed to fight: "The claims in this suit have no merit, in either law or fact, and we intend to fight them," said Nielsen in a statement. "We stand firmly behind our Los Angles sample and our proven methodology. People Meters have been in use since 1987 and have proved to be the most accurate and complete way of measuring television viewing by the diverse groups who make up our communities. People Meters do a better job of representing what people are watching on TV and they in no way prejudice any viewer group.