Nielsen, Sunbeam Close To Settlement


Nielsen appears to be on the brink of settling another case charging it with monopolistic practices. Sunbeam Television and Nielsen informed a federal district court Thursday that they are close to resolving an antitrust suit brought last year by Sunbeam.

In a telephone hearing, the two sides told a magistrate judge in Miami they believe they are near an agreement and the issues will be resolved.

No other details were released, and neither Nielsen or Sunbeam provided immediate comment.

Based on court documents, it is believed that Sunbeam has viewed copies of prior Nielsen settlements: an antitrust matter with potential challenger erinMedia in 2008 and an agreement with Univision involving local people meters in 2004. Sunbeam is believed to have had access to outlines and scopes of the settlements -- such as what Nielsen may have agreed to as far as altering policies -- but not any amounts paid by the media ratings company.



Sunbeam operates the Fox affiliate in Miami and has charged Nielsen with hurting its business by failing to allow competitors to enter the market and deploying defective local people meters that have under-counted its minority and other audiences. Sunbeam had not specified the damages it was seeking, but had said in court papers that the Nielsen practices have cost it more than $1 million a month since October 2008.

A jury trial was scheduled for January. Nielsen had some incentive to move toward a settlement as the company has filed for an IPO.

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