The Tampa Tribune reports the lawsuit, which names Clem and Bubba Radio Network Inc. as defendants, says Clem offered to pay a radio listener who was participating in Nielsen’s radio survey hundreds of dollars a month to inflate his show’s ratings.
According to the suit, Nielsen says Clem learned from a listener that one of the listener’s acquaintances was participating in Nielsen’s survey. Clem then met with the acquaintance several times in July and August and offered to pay him $300 a month if the listener help increased his ratings, and a bonus of up to $400 a month if a target result was reached, the suit says.
Clem could not immediately be reached for comment. The suit refers to the member of the radio survey panel who Clem is accused of meeting with as the “Cooperating Panelist’’ but does not name the person.
Clem sent the listener text messages telling him to keep the deal secret, the suit says, one of which read, “U have to PROMISE NOT TO SAY A WORD ... This could ruin me.”
Clem also instructed the listener to switch to other stations to avoid suspicion but told him not to tune to WHPT 102.5 FM The Bone, which is owned by Cox Media Group and a direct competitor.
The suit says after a drop in his ratings, Clem contacted the listener and told him to try harder: “Please buddy. Please. I’m paying u!!!”
Clem also offered to buy and then bought radios and other listening devices on Amazon.com and had them shipped to the listener’s home, the suit claims.
In August, the listener contacted Nielsen and told them about Clem’s actions, the suit says.
On Oct. 6 Clem held a press conference and admitted the ratings tampering accusations are true. “It’s with deep regret and embarrassment that I face you directly and say that they’re true,” he said about the charges. “The buck stops with me and I cannot tell you how humbled and how embarrassed I am.”
WFLA-TV8 reports Nielsen says it has suffered damages and asks the court that Clem be held financially responsible. The damages are not less than $1,000,000, according to the complaint.
“Bubba Clem has been a radio broadcaster for approximately 30 years. Upon information and belief, (he) is well aware of the importance of the Nielsen Audio ratings to the success of any radio program, specifically, that programs and stations with high ratings can command higher rates and generate more advertising revenue than competing stations with lower rates programs,” the complaint says.
Bubba is currently heard in Tampa on Beasley Media's WBRN 98.7 FM. However, he is an independent personality, not a Beasley employee. The show is also syndicated.