Univision Sues to Block L.A. ‘LPM’

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Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc. has filed suit to stop Nielsen Media Research from launching its “Local People Meter” system in Los Angeles July 8.

Univision has gone to the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles seeking an injunction against the LPM rollout and to bar the ratings company from allegedly making false claims about data it gets from the new meters.

Finally, Univision -- claiming “trade libel” by alleging that LPM data undercount its audience -- is also seeking damages from Nielsen.

Univision and its TeleFutura Television Group lodged their 24-page complaint -- charging Nielsen with deceptive business practices and fraudulent advertising -- Wednesday.

Nielsen issued a response to the suit Thursday.

“The claims in this suit have no merit, in either law or fact, and we intend to fight them,” Nielsen said. “We stand firmly behind our Los Angeles sample and our proven methodology.”

The ratings company added, “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.”

The lawsuit is the latest episode in the ongoing controversy over Nielsen’s deployment of the new LPM system, which broadcasters such as Univision and News Corp. -- as well as some Latino and African-American associations -- charge undercount TV viewing by people of color.

Nielsen started using LPMs in New York June 3, and is set to launch them, following two delays already, in July in Los Angeles, where Univision has two TV stations: Univision outlet KMEX and TeleFutura station KFTR.

In its suit, Univision charged that Nielsen’s LPM sample is flawed in that “it contains too few young Hispanic-Americans, too few large Hispanic-American households and too many Hispanic-American households that speak mostly or only English.”

According to the suit, “As a result, the new LPM ratings materially and inaccurately understate viewing of Spanish-language stations like Univision’s stations and exaggerate viewing of English-language stations.”

If Nielsen launches LPMs in July, Univision claimed in its suit that it will “suffer a substantial and irreparable loss in its reputation when the LPM service’s inaccurate and deflated ratings become public currency. It will also immediately lose both advertisers and substantial revenue, as advertisers respond to dramatic ratings drops.”

Univision’s lawsuit also alleged that Nielsen’s defense of its LPM system and the accuracy of its data -- in press releases and a DVD that it sent out to its clients and the media -- constitute “false and misleading advertising … by giving false credibility to the LPM ratings.”

In a prepared statement, Univision Television Networks president Ray Rodriguez said, “The sample and the weighting technique currently employed in Nielsen’s proposed Los Angeles LPM system -- just as in its New York LPM systems -- will result in a seriously flawed measuring tool and, as a result, Hispanic media and the Hispanic community in general will be unfairly prejudiced.”