Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nielsen research sue by ABS-CBN

ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. has sued media research agency AGB Nielsen Media Research Philippines over its alleged "systematic, organized and well-funded attempt" to rig television ratings.

ABS-CBN filed a P63 million civil case before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Friday against AGB-Nielsen for damages and injunction with an application for a temporary restraining order, the network's chief legal counsel Maximilian Uy told a press briefing Friday."We regret to bring this matter to the public but the Filipino people and the entire media industry deserve to know the truth," ABS-CBN chair Eugenio Lopez III said in a video clip shown during the briefing.Charina Dy, the AGB Nielsen's human resources and administration manager, said it was premature to issue a statement at this point. "We have not seen the complaint yet," Dy said.

At the press briefing, ABS-CBN executives related how the network came to discover the alleged attempt to cheat in the ratings.According to Vivian Tin, chief officer for research and business analysis, a few weeks ago, the ABS-CBN station manager in Bacolod was sought out by a man who volunteered to offer information about attempts to bribe households where AGB Nielsen's meters were installed to get them to switch the programs they were watching.

Meters are installed in selected households across the country as a means of measuring the ratings. The identity of these metered households is kept secure so that no outside entity can influence their viewing behavior.

During the press briefing, a video of an interview conducted in Ilonggo (with English subtitles) was played, with the unidentified informant shown in silhouette.The informant confessed that he moved around the villages with six other people, looking for the AGB meter device used to measure the ratings.Upon identifying the household with installed meters, he makes an offer to provide P500 a month in cash or groceries in exchange for the household's changing channels.

"If they accept our offer, which almost always happens because of poverty--we convince them to shift the channel to the other station," the informant said.

Asked which network he took his orders from, the informant declined to name the network involved. But ABS-CBN executives said the informant had identified the network to them.

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