WPP has asked the New York State Supreme Court to dismiss a breach of contract and negligence lawsuit filed against it and several subsidiaries by New Delhi Television
(NDTV) last month. The original suit alleges that a TV ratings service in India that WPP companies own with Nielsen, known as TAM, has issued incorrect data for years, costing NDTV hundreds of
millions of dollars.
WPP challenged NDTV’s allegations both on their merits -- calling them “completely baseless” -- and on technical grounds. It argued that New York is not the proper venue for the suit, given that NDTV’s complaint is focused on events and activities that took place in India. WPP also said it was not served properly, and that NDTV got some of the names of the subsidiaries it is suing wrong.
“This case is nothing more than a desperate attempt by the plaintiff… to drum up media coverage in India to divert attention from the real reasons its programs have had low audience ratings and its financial performance has been abysmal for five years,” WPP stated in papers filed Aug. 28.
In its original suit, NDTV charged that TAM was underfunded, corrupt, and spewing out false data. It asked for $1 billion-plus in damages. Part of the problem, NDTV said, was that competitors, some owned by unnamed Indian politicians, were bribing ratings panel members to tune their TV sets to certain channels while they actually watched programs on sets not hooked up to ratings meters.
All the more reason to try the case in Indian courts and not New York, WPP asserted.
“Hundreds of paragraphs” in the NDTV’s complaint “demonstrate that the nexus of any potential
claim lies in India, not New York,” the WPP brief stated. “There are dozens of Indian residents whose names appear in the complaint that will be witnesses and many other witnesses in India
that are not listed in the complaint. Key agreements that are at the core of the dispute are subject to jurisdiction of Mumbai courts.”
Nielsen’s response to the suit has not yet appeared in the New York State Supreme Court.