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Nielsen Delists Bubba 98.7 Again After Uncovering More Manipulation Attempts

Bubba 98.7 WBRN-FM Tampa Nielsen AudioBubba The Love Sponge keeps digging a larger hole for himself and Beasley’s “Bubba 98.7” WBRN-FM Holmes Beach/Tampa.

Update 5:00pm: Beasley has released the following statement regarding today’s action by Nielsen:

Beasley Media Group commented today on the announcement by Nielsen Audio that it would delist the Company’s Tampa Bay, Florida station, WBRN-FM 98.7, from its October 2015 Ratings Report. WBRN-FM was previously excluded from the September 2015 Ratings Report even though Nielsen announced that the affected PPM Panelist’s listening was not included in that Report.

Beasley Media Group President Bruce Beasley stated, “Since the initial incident was reported to Beasley Media, we have had a constructive dialog with Nielsen as we were also victimized by Mr. Clem’s actions. We instituted remedial actions against Mr. Clem which had been reviewed in advance by Nielsen. As Nielsen itself acknowledged, we cooperated fully with Nielsen to ensure the accuracy of their past and forthcoming ratings. Therefore, we were blind-sided and disappointed to learn today that Nielsen Audio will exclude WBRN-FM from the October 2015 ratings. Nielsen has not shared with us, its longstanding client, any specific evidence of ratings distortion which could have had any impact on the October 2015 Ratings Report, thus suggesting that this action is related solely to the ongoing litigation between Nielsen and Mr. Clem. The fallout from this dispute may inflict collateral damage on Beasley, which, indisputably, has done nothing wrong.”

Background

In October, Nielsen filed a lawsuit against Todd Clem (AKA, ‘Bubba The Love Sponge’), who serves as an independent contractor to Beasley Media and other radio broadcasters. Nielsen’s lawsuit is based on Todd Clem’s attempted ratings distortion activity in Tampa involving WBRN-FM 98.7 broadcasts, through his direct contact with a PPM Panelist. At the time the incident became known to Beasley Media, the Company publicly condemned the actions of Mr. Clem, who has provided syndicated programming to radio broadcasters for many years and is not a Company employee. Since that time, Beasley Media has instituted several steps to ensure that such conduct does not occur in the future including compliance training for Mr. Clem and his employees and the distribution of guidelines reiterating the importance of avoiding conduct that could cause ratings distortion to all Beasley employees.

At the time the incident occurred, Nielsen Audio stated that Mr. Clem’s conduct had 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 Panelist’s results from the survey. Nevertheless, due to Mr. Clem’s attempt to influence the listening of a PPM Panelist, it was Beasley that suffered the penalty when Nielsen failed to include its station, WBRN-FM (98.7 MHz), in the September 2015 Ratings Report. The second delisting today may further adversely impact Beasley.

INSTANT INSIGHT: So Beasley is going on the record blaming Nielsen for any negative impacts they may feel in the Tampa market financially, but not Bubba The Love Sponge who was the one who was attempting to cheat the system?

Original Report 11/2 11:45am: After having the station delisted from the Nielsen Audio September 2015 PPM monthlies for attempting to distort the ratings by paying a listener and then being sued by Nielsen over the incident, Nielsen has discovered more attempts by Bubba The Love Sponge to tamper with the ratings.

Nielsen delayed the release of the October monthly last week for further “Quality Assurance”. The delayed numbers will be released today but not include WBRN-FM as the ratings provider found evidence of further panel tampering attempts.

As a result of Rating Distortion activities in the form of attempted panel tampering by a syndicated personality at WBRN-FM, Nielsen did not report audience estimates for WBRN-FM in the September 2015 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater PPM Radio Market Report. Nielsen has further evidence of panel tampering attempts by this syndicated personality. As a result, and in accordance with Nielsen’s Rating Distortion guidelines, Nielsen is not reporting audience estimates for WBRN-FM in the October 2015 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater PPM Radio Market Report. Since the program of the syndicated personality is carried in eight other markets, those markets will receive a notation about WBRN-FM’s delistment and the additional panel tampering attempts.”

“The ratings themselves were not affected in any of the markets and for that reason, no data reissue is necessary. Nielsen is committed to maintaining the highest standards of data integrity and will continue to act swiftly to ensure that those standards are upheld, including taking additional measures if circumstances warrant.”

This declaration comes just days after Beasley reported its financial numbers for the third quarter and while not supporting his actions, they did declare their support for his show and the station: “This negatively impacted the Q3 share for the station and the cluster. At this time, the morning show has returned with the same personalities and continues to be very popular in Tampa.”

Profile photo of Lance Venta
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.

3 Comments

  1. Profile photo of ksradiogeek


    My friend, who works for Beasley (no, I will not mention names), is deeply disappointed with this. If I were Bruce, I’d cut off his contract immediately and use any sort of ways to sever it. Normally, companies would try to distance themselves by these sort of actions, but wow…Beasley won’t do it. And I honestly thought good things about that company. Guess I was misled.

  2. Profile photo of Beachguy


    I once worked for Beasley, albeit when the elder Beasley ran the company. This doesn’t surprise me in the least based on that experience. I don’t know if today’s Beasley is any better, but I didn’t respect them a lot when I was there many moons ago.

    In the first case, Beasley was too light in its response, but (taking their comments at face value) this second one so far has me agreeing with their perspective. It doesn’t sound like Nielsen has been forthcoming with the details.

  3. Profile photo of saltydog


    If I were with Beasley, I’d do exactly what they seem to be doing: Deciding which is the better business decision, cutting Clem loose or keeping him. If you’re a moralizer, then sympathy for Nielsen is curious because they have been presenting distorted ratings as accurate for many years.

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