Monday, October 19, 2015

Tampa Radio: Nielsen vs Bubba..Others Involved

Bubba Clem
It only took one whistle-blower to trigger the ratings scandal that brought a $1 million lawsuit against Bubba The Love Sponge, aka. Todd Clem. But based on Nielsen’s allegations, the syndicated host engaged with multiple PPM panelists in an effort to artificially inflate his ratings, according to InsideRadio.

Nielsen says that Clem “knowingly contacted multiple Nielsen Audio PPM survey panelists for the purpose of recruiting them to help him tamper with the PPM survey results.” In what sounds like a carefully coordinated campaign, Nielsen alleges he communicated with them “on an ongoing and systematic basis, directly and through others working on his behalf.”

According to the suit, multiple panelists falsified their actual listening in response to solicitations by Clem and his cronies.

Also, Bubba’s alleged distortion scheme may not have been confined just to Tampa. Nielsen says it believes additional PPM panelists in other markets may have been in cahoots with Clem. In addition to Tampa, the show airs in five other Florida markets.

Among the allegations in the federal lawsuit filed Thursday: fraud; conspiracy to defraud; violating the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act; and interfering with business and contractual relations between Nielsen and Beasley Media.

"Any time you tamper with the measuring stick of radio, it's a big deal" St. Petersburg-based radio consultant Gabe Hobbs told ABC ActionNews.  He says controversy comes with the territory in the competitive Tampa Bay radio market.  But now, Bubba personally faces a five count lawsuit from Nielsen seeking a million dollars per count.

The lawsuit claims Bubba actually paid the unidentified Nielsen household member $300 a month plus bonuses to misrepresent how much they were listening to his show.   The complaint quotes phone texts that warn the listener  not to say a word  because quote, "This could ruin me."

The Beasley Media station, WBRN 98.7 FM, that airs Bubba has refused to comment on the lawsuit or what they plan to do next.

Hobbs doesn't think Bubba's fans or advertisers will punish him for this.  But he thinks Nielsen is making an example out of Bubba.

"I think he needs to be a very good boy for  a while and not get into any more trouble and see what he can do to make this lawsuit go away," Hobbs said.

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