Nielsen Sues For Financial Compensation In Bubba Clem Ratings Tampering Case
October 16, 2015 at 9:44 AM (PT)
NIELSEN AUDIO has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that BUBBA "THE LOVE SPONGE" CLEM violated Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, ABC NEWS reports.
Earlier this month (NET NEWS 10/5), ALL ACCESS reported BEASLEY MEDIA GROUP followed up an investigation into NIELSEN’s allegations of attempted ratings distortion activity, determining that TODD CLEM (aka "BUBBA THE LOVE SPONGE"), who provides syndicated programming as an independent contractor to Rock station WBRN (98.7 NO RULES RADIO)/TAMPA, was contacted directly by a PPM (PORTABLE PEOPLE METER) holder and subsequently attempted to influence the listening habits of the PPM holder.
NIELSEN AUDIO confirmed that CLEM’s conduct has no impact on the TAMPA BAY radio market ratings because the improper activity was discovered in a timely manner and NIELSEN moved quickly to remove the PPM holder’s results from the survey.
Now, WFLA-TV8/TAMPA reports, "NIELSEN AUDIO’s claims in the action arise from (CLEM’s) purposeful efforts to manipulate the radio audience estimates and station rankings for the TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG radio market by, among other things, paying members of the NIELSEN AUDIO survey panel to distort the radio audience estimates,” said the complaint, filed in U.S. DISTRICT COURT.
NIELSEN, “scientifically and randomly selects” people to help determine radio station ratings. The panelists are given devices and trained on how to transmit data to NIELSEN. They are compensated by NIELSEN. CLEM asked a panelist to help “manipulate” the ratings, the complaint says. “CLEM warned the cooperating panelist to exercise caution while manipulating the PPM device so as to avoid suspicion by NIELSEN AUDIO.”
WFLA's report says BTLS, "offered to pay the panelist $300 per month if his show’s ratings improved and gave instructions about what the individual was supposed to do." The complaint notes BTLS also promised bonus money to the panelist. “BUBBA CLEM in fact paid the cooperating panelist a portion of the monies he promised to pay,” the complaint says.
WFLA also notes BUBBA texted, “U have to PROMISE NOT TO SAY A WORD … This could ruin me. B,” the panelist, according to the complaint. The station says around AUGUST 9th, BTLS "learned the size of his audience had dropped, and he sent a text to the panelist saying, 'Got raw numbers today. We went down. It’s so important you get up please buddy. Please. I’m paying u!!!'”
ALL ACCESS has contacted BUBBA THE LOVE SPONGE for a comment.
A BEASLEY MEDIA spokesperson had no comment.
NIELSEN released a statement, saying the company, "does not comment on pending litigation. NIELSEN is committed to maintaining the highest standards of data and panel integrity and will continue to act swiftly to ensure that those standards are upheld and protected."