Sunbeam sues over LPM


Sunbeam Television has filed suit against Nielsen Media Research in a Miami federal court, charging that Nielsen’s Local People Meters (LPN) are defective. The suit claims violations of state and federal antitrust laws by the TV ratings company and a breach of Nielsen’s contract with Sunbeam.

Ed Ansin’s Sunbeam, which owns WSVN-TV (Fox) Miami, claims in the suit that it was forced by Nielsen’s monopoly position in television ratings to buy the LPN service in Miami when the more expensive LPMs replaced meter/diary service last year. Sunbeam claims that LPMs do a poor job of measuring TV audiences and have undercounted WSVN’s viewership in the ethnically diverse Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market. Sunbeam claims the undercounting is costing it million of dollars in ad revenues and has decreased the market value of the station by $100 million.

“Suddenly, as of October 1, of last year about 50% of the young audience, the young adult audience disappeared, vanished,” Ansin was quoted as saying in a story on the wSVN website. He complained that the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale audience for “American Idol,” the #1 show on television, suddenly dropped by half under LPM measurement. This is impossible. Suddenly we didn’t lose 50% of the audience, and nobody else in the country did. That doesn’t make any sense,” Ansin said.

Sunbeam also owns WHDH-TV (NBC) in the Boston market, which was the first to get LPM ratings back in 2002.

The Nielsen Company did not immediately respond to a request from RBR/TVBR for comment on the lawsuit.