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Contract Dispute Leads To Claims Of Ratings Fraud

97.9 La Raza KLAX Ricardo El Mandril Sanchez SBS Ratings Fraud Contract Nielsen ArbitronUpdate 12/3: The Los Angeles Times reports that El Mandril was the focus of an investigation into potential ratings tampering. His manager stated that the push came from competitors “concerned that Mandril was being so successful”. The allegations claimed that PPM holders were contacted by people associated with the show and encouraged to listen.

There is still no concrete answer as to if that led to his being taken off the air. The Times report quotes his manager as stating that he was pulled simply as part of a contract renegotiation, but that a KLAX executive said El Mandril’s show “was taken off the air because of an investigation”.

Original Report 11/27: Ricardo ‘El Mandril’ Sánchez has been off the air at SBS’ Regional Mexican stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago since November 1 as his contract comes expires at the end of the month.

While still listed on the websites of “La Raza 97.9” KLAX East Los Angeles and “La Raza 93.3” KRZZ San Francisco, he has been removed from that of “La Ley 107.9” WLEY Aurora/Chicago. KLAX Afternoon host José Antonio Castro’s “El Show de Toño” has currently taken the morning slot on KLAX and KRZZ. Sanchez’s show has continued to air on his non-SBS owned syndication affiliates.

Where things get interesting is a report last week from Spanish language newspaper La Opinión that states that SBS and Nielsen are investigating whether Sanchez’s ratings have been fraudulently enhanced.

Translated that reads as:

Also, local and reliable sources told this newspaper that SBS is investigating the veracity of the numbers of El Mandril as number one, on complaints of possible fraud.

Nielsen Audio, meanwhile, said through a spokeswoman that “we do not provide specific details of any show.” And about the possibility that their numbers have been altered to favor Mandril, made no comment before deadine to this publication.

El Mandril has been the most listened to morning personality in Los Angeles in each of the past six months. In the November ratings released earlier this week he led KROQ’s Kevin & Bean with a 5.6 share to their 4.9.

There have been rumors that Univision is targeting Sanchez to replace Eddie ‘Piolin’ Soltelo following his termination this summer.

INSTANT INSIGHT: While Arbitron had to settle a lawsuit in 2012 connected to it not weighing minority listeners fairly, and there have been occasions of station staffers improperly filling out diaries, there has yet to be a case of tampered ratings in PPM markets.

If there is fraud found in the Los Angeles ratings, it will cause repercussions for Nielsen in all of its PPM markets. Many questions must be answered. How does one tamper with a device that measures listening? With PPM ratings released to stations weekly, how much advertising sold using falsified data has there been? Will other broadcasters seek SBS and/or Nielsen to pay them for revenue that may have instead gone to them?

KROQ morning co-host Bean, whose program as we mentioned above is the closest to El Mandril in the ratings Tweeted to us his interest in figuring some of these questions out.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

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