Despite reconciliation moves [WAMN: 09-Jun-04], the face-off between Nielsen Media Research and sections of America's TV industry has got legal.

The nation's largest Spanish language TV company, Univision Communications, one of Nielsen's most vocal critics, on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court.

This seeks to prevent the researcher from introducing the controversial Local People Meters -- and particularly its associated sampling methodology -- in the Los Angeles TV market, scheduled to start July 8.

The lawsuit follows Nielsen's railroading of its new audience measurement system in New York, despite strong opposition from broadcasters, ethnic lobbying groups and a raft of political hangers-on.

Univision charges that Nielsen is engaging in unfair, unlawful and deceptive business practices because the changes -- primarily the use of LPMs to gather ratings data -- would significantly undercount Univision's core Hispanic viewers in Los Angeles.

A Nielsen statement issued yesterday refutes the charges. "The claims in this suit have no merit, in either law or fact, and we intend to fight them," declared the VNU-owned research giant.

Lawyers are likely to be further enriched by a second Nielsen-bound lawsuit emanating from the Don't Count Us Out coalition -- an alliance of minority and community organizations egged on and financed by News Corporation's extensive black and Latino TV interests.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff