Broadcaster NDTV has filed a lawsuit worth billions against The Nielsen Company for manipulating TV ratings and viewership data in favour of TV channels willing to pay bribes to its officials, reports Deadline. (Hat Tip – @nitinmathur)
As per the lawsuit, NDTV is now seeking $580 million for gross negligence against TAM and misrepresentations, $810 million for fraud, $125 million for negligence and gross negligence against Nielsen, $125 million for negligence and gross negligence against Kantar, $790 million for breach of contract against TAM, $250 million for prima facie tort against TAM and millions more on various costs including legal fees and punitive damages to be determined by trier of fact during the legal proceedings.
In the lawsuit filed in the New York court, NDTV claimed that it had repeatedly experienced revenue losses due to ongoing rampant corruption in television viewership data published by TAM, a joint venture between by Nielsen and Kantar, for eight years between 2004 to January 2012, despite several assurances from the company that it will stop publishing corrupt TAM data and fix the blatant corruption present in the data.
It claimed that it had presented several complaints like corrupt data and low sample size to Nielsen officials, along with evidence supporting the data corruption in January this year, following which senior officials of Nielsen and Kantar promised to address these issues and offer immediate solutions. However, these promises has not been fulfilled yet and the company continues to publish this corrupted data negligently, deliberately and willfully, despite of the direct knowledge of the corruption in data and the losses it will cause to broadcasters like NDTV.
The company also added that due to the monopoly power of Nielsen and Kantar, NDTV along with other broadcasters and advertisers have no choice but to depend on the corrupt TAM data. However, low ratings for its news channels has resulted in loss of its reputation and goodwill along with a severe dent to its profitability due to low advertising revenues. NDTV claimed that its share price declined significantly from Rs 501 on January 4, 2008, to Rs 25.7, as of December 20, 2011 due to loss of shareholder’s respect and faith and it has forced the company to pay higher compensation to retain their demoralized employees.