TNS makes play for senior executives at AGBNielsen

Research company TNS has tried to poach senior executives at AGBNielsen, as the two rivals vie for the £10m Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) TV measurement contract.

The research company is understood to have approach-ed AGBNielsen executives including managing director Justin Sampson (pictured) over filling a vacancy left by Andrea Mezzasalma, head of TNS’s Internet, Television and Radio Audience Measurement (iTRAM) division.

A number of other non-AGBNielsen executives are also understood to have been considered for the role of head of digital measurement.

Mezzasalma left the division in September following a restructure which saw iTRAM aligned with TNS Media Intelligence and his position scrapped.

Separately, TNS served papers last week for a High Court action to revoke a Nielsen-owned patent, which Nielsen says would be infringed by a victory for TNS/Arbitron.

Nielsen holds the European patent for an audience measurement system that collects codes assigned to broadcast waves, which it claims is the same technology that will be used in the TNS/Arbitron system (MW November 29).

There is an ongoing appeal against the patent – being argued by a number of companies including TNS – which is due to be heard in March. The High Court, which is expected to rule in the second half of 2008, could revoke the patent in the UK should TNS succeed.

TNS and AGBNielsen were unavailable for comment.

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