SYDNEY: Nielsen Media Research, the subject of a two year investigation by competition watchdogs Down Under, has been asked for more information on its structure and the sale of its services.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission first launched its probe in April 2005 after allegations that Nielsen had tried to stop new competitor MRI from entering the national TV monitoring and reporting market.

At the outset of the probe the ACCC wrote to local media buying agencies enquiring about Nielsen's market power and asking whether it 'bundled' TV spot data services "free" with adspend data and "refused to supply them separately at their distinct market rates".

Although the researcher has consistently denied wrongdoing, it has now been served with a section 155 notice by the ACCC. This can force individuals or companies to provide information considered pertinent to an investigation.

Comments MD Peter Cornelius: "I spoke in 2005 about this and our legal advice is there is not an issue. There's nothing new. We're not doing anything different since we [first] responded [to the ACCC]."

Media agencies have welcomed the stepping-up of the investigation.

Says Total Advertising & Communications ceo Barry O'Brien: "We've got lots of competition on our side of the fence. Media's got a lot of competition, so why shouldn't they [Nielsen] have lots of competition. In this space there is none."

He adds: "Clearly the ACCC feels as though there's an issue they need to revisit on this and if that's the case, good luck to them."

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff