Sunbeam Television, whose owner, Ed Ansin, drew much attention when he announced his decision to replace the upcoming Jay Leno nightly variety show with local news -- and later reversed the decision -- has filed an anti-trust complaint in federal court against Nielsen Media Research. Sunbeam claims in its filing that Nielsen has violated federal and state antitrust laws "by unlawfully maintaining and perpetuating its monopoly in the TV-ratings market." The lawsuit alleges that TV broadcasters "are left with no choice but to purchase Nielsen's ratings in order to market air time to advertisers." Moreover, Sunbeam challenges the accuracy of Nielsen's data, pointing out that when Nielsen moved from Meter-Diaries to Local People Meters (LPMs) last October, the ratings for one of Sunbeam's stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market dropped by half. "There are serious problems with LPMs that are well-known to Nielsen," the lawsuit contends. Nielsen called the lawsuit "utterly without merit" and insisted that the current Miami ratings "are more accurate than any previous measurement of this market."

01/05/2009