Byron Allen sues Nielsen for ratings fraud 

Allen Media Group is seeking billions of dollars in damages, accusing the data company of “fraudulent misrepresentation and fraud by concealment."

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Three companies owned by media mogul Byron Allen have filed a lawsuit alleging “fraudulent misrepresentation and fraud by concealment” by Nielsen, the data company that measures audiences for the television industry.

Allen, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, which owns theGrio, is seeking billions of dollars in damages according to the lawsuit filed by Allen’s media companies Weather Group, LLC (“Weather Group”), Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc. (ESN) and CF Entertainment, Inc. (“Entertainment Studios”).

Byron Allen thegrio.com
Byron Allen enjoys his Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony in October. (Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

The lawsuit claims that Nielsen’s historic rating system, which has measured television viewing for years, is “antiquated, highly unreliable and fundamentally flawed,” and was ultimately useless for Allen’s networks that have limited distribution. 

Allen further alleges that the ratings agency deliberately concealed the fact that its measurement systems are unreliable, “and thereby caused Entertainment Studios and the Weather Group to pay millions in fees,” per a press release. Several other networks received similar deceptive services from Nielsen, according to the lawsuit. 

Nielsen had not responded to theGrio as of publication time. The organization also has declined to comment to several media outlets that sought a response to the allegations, according to their news reports.

“This lawsuit is about Nielsen’s outdated, unreliable and broken television ratings service, and the resulting harm suffered by media companies who rely on Nielsen to sell ad time,” the complaint claims.

It also says that Nielsen concealed the fact that its “panel system was unreliable across all networks, and that the system was totally unreliable for networks like the ESN.”

Kelly Abcarian of NBC/Universal, who worked at Nielsen for 16 years, publicly acknowledged that the industry can no longer rely on Nielsen’s outdated measurement systems, per the legal documents. 

“The industry has suffered billions of dollars in losses, and we can no longer afford these damages. Nielsen needs to quickly address these issues. If not, I highly expect that Nielsen will soon face a $10 billion-plus class-action lawsuit,” Allen said.

Allen’s attorney, Skip Miller, added, “This case goes to the heart of the Nielsen television ratings system. It’s going to be up to a judge and jury to determine the system’s viability, and I look forward to our day in court.”

Allen owns several major television networks, giving him one of the largest cable network portfolios in the field, theGrio previously reported. Some of his networks include Comedy.tv, Cars.tv, Es.tv, JusticeCental.tv, MyDestination.tv, Pets.tv, Recipe.tv, Local Now, and The Weather Channel en Español.

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