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Univision Sues Nielsen Over Ratings System

June 10, 2004|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications Inc. sued Nielsen Media Research on Wednesday, seeking to block the TV-ratings firm from launching its controversial new measurement system next month in Los Angeles.

Univision charged that Nielsen planned to adopt "a flawed and knowingly deceptive" system. The result, Univision said in the Los Angeles County Superior Court lawsuit, would be significantly lower TV station ratings and lower advertising revenue for the company.

A Nielsen spokesman declined to comment.

Nielsen has been embroiled in weeks of controversy over its plan to begin collecting local viewership information with "people meter" boxes that electronically record what individuals watch, replacing written diaries. Several media companies have protested the move, complaining that the sample audiences that Nielsen has put together in New York and Los Angeles misrepresent the demographic makeup of the regions.

Univision's suit charges that Nielsen's sample audience in Los Angeles -- Univision's biggest and most important market -- contains too few young Latinos and too many Latinos who mostly speak English.

Preliminary data from the new system have shown ratings declines at Spanish-language stations in Los Angeles of as much as 50% among viewers ages 18 to 34.

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