Nielsen files for dismissal of NDTV lawsuit

MUMBAI: Global ratings and research company Nielsen has filed a petition in the New York Supreme Court seeking dismissal of New Delhi Television’s (NDTV) lawsuit over corruption in television ratings system in India.

Nielsen’s contention is that India, not New York, is the appropriate venue for the lawsuit. According to Nielsen, NYSC is the wrong court of law for the legal fight as NDTV receives its TV ratings data from Tam Media Research, a company that works in India.

Earlier in August, WPP had filed a similar motion with the NYSC to dismiss NDTV’s lawsuit. NDTV had on 26 July filed its lawsuit accusing 31 entities, including TAM, Nielsen, Kantar and their officials, of knowingly allowing continuation of manipulation of television viewership data in favour of broadcasters willing to pay bribes to its officials or representatives.

WPP owns half of TAM in India through its subsidiaries – Kantar and Cavendish, and the other half of TAM is owned by The Nielsen Company.

In its petition, Nielsen has said that the dispute concerns the quality of a TV ratings data subscription service. “NDTV—a company headquartered in India—receives in India from TAM, another Indian company, pursuant to an agreement executed between the companies in India,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen further argued that NDTV had been subscribing to the TAM ratings service since 1998, which it used for promoting its TV shows to advertisers in India. It also pointed out that while the Indian broadcaster claimed it had evidence that the ratings data was flawed, it sued Nielsen and the uninvolved subsidiaries eight years after that.

“None of the four entities sued is a joint venturer in TAM or has ever executed an agreement with NDTV regarding TAM’s subscription service—in this Court, asserting a grab bag of irrational and defective claims apparently under New York state law. According to NDTV, these Nielsen companies should be held liable under contract and tort law based on meetings NDTV had with a few Nielsen representatives in 2012—in India—concerning NDTV’s allegations about TAM’s TV ratings data,” the petition said.

Nielsen also argued in the dismissal plea that NDTV failed to name
TAM, with whom it has a contract for the ratings services, as a party to the suit. “In the Amended Complaint, NDTV viciously attacks TAM’s reputation and seeks damages because TAM’s TV ratings data ‘are not reliable’ and ‘tainted by widespread fraud and corruption.’ TAM has a right to defend against such attacks, and NDTV should not be allowed to suppress that right by bringing a lawsuit in another country, where TAM has no contacts.”

Nielsen also stated that NDTV’s lawsuit “blatantly ignores” the company with whom it has a contract.

“Instead, NDTV attempts to transform a potential contract claim against TAM into tort and oral contract claims against the Nielsen defendants. Nothing in the law supports such a magic trick. Simply put, NDTV fails to allege a legal duty independent of a contract and fails to allege all of the elements needed to support each cause of action,” argued Nielsen.

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