Nielsen Media Research International and Milan-headquartered AGB Group on Friday announced a new joint venture to offer TV ratings services in thirty nations across the globe.

Branded AGB Nielsen Media Research, the 50/50 owned operation will trade in major markets including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Italy, South Africa and the UK.

The duo, together with other companies in their respective groups (AGB is owned by WPP Group's Kantar research unit) will service clients in forty-six countries accounting for over 70% of the global television economy.

Old-timers in the industry will note with wry amusement that AGB has now gotten into bed with its old and deadly rival Nielsen -- both of which were independent entities back in the late 80s when AGB's then chairman, Sir Bernard Audley, all but drove the company into insolvency in his obsession to whup Nielsen in its own USA backyard.

Yet more ironic: Audley's chosen anti-Nielsen weapon during that battle was the (then) revolutionary electronic people meter, pioneered by the UK company and damned by Nielsen as 'unproven' and 'new-fangled'.

The consequence of Audley's compulsion was AGB's sale to the late media pirate, Robert Maxwell and the company's eventual acquisition from Maxwell's liquidator by WPP.

And for connoisseurs of the truly piquant: the joint venture's executive management is led by AGB's Rolando Stalli and Dr Alberto Colussi, between them responsible for all day-to-day operations and based in Milan. The board of directors will operate from the Netherlands where Nielsen's Dutch parent VNU Group holds court.

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff