Univision sues over use of local People Meters

WASHINGTON — Univision Communications is taking its battle against Nielsen’s new rating system to court.

Spanish-lingo media giant filed suit against Nielsen on Thursday, alleging the local People Meter system undercounts minority viewers.

Suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, is an attempt to stop the audience assessor from launching the electronic People Meters in Los Angeles as planned July 8.

Univision maintains that the system will cause their company irreparable damage by undercounting young Hispanic Americans and large Hispanic families, and overstating the number of U.S. Hispanic households that speak mostly or only English.

“The sample and the weighting technique currently employed in Nielsen’s proposed Los Angeles (local People Meter) system — just as in its New York LPM system — will result in a seriously flawed measuring tool, and, as a result, Hispanic media and the Hispanic community in general will be unfairly prejudiced,” Univision Television Networks prexy Ray Rodriguez said in a statement.

Partial to people

Nielsen, which rolled out the People Meters in New York last week despite criticism, is standing firm in its support of the LPMs and plans to fight Univision’s legal challenge.

“The claims in the suit have no merit,” company said in a statement Thursday. “We stand firmly behind our Los Angeles sample and our proven methodology.”

Nielsen said the People Meters have been in use since 1987 in different parts of the country and “do a better job of representing what people are watching on TV, and they in no way prejudice in viewer group.”

Univision, News Corp./Fox and a chorus of minority groups repped by the Don’t Count Us Out Coalition (funded at least in part by News Corp.) have been waging a battle against Nielsen for months.

Earlier this week, the Advertising Research Foundation offered to convene meetings between a task force headed by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Nielsen reps as well as pols and reps of minority groups who have impugned the accuracy of the electronic rating system.

(Mary Sutter in Miami contributed to this report.)

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