Bubba The Love Sponge Countersues Nielsen, Cox Media & Mike Calta In Ratings Tampering Case

Bubba Love Sponge 98.7 WHFS-FM Tampa Nielsen PPM Ratings FraudBubba The Love Sponge Clem has filed a motion to file a counter claim against Nielsen in their lawsuit against him for ratings tampering. Clem also seeks to have Cox Media and Mike Calta morning host at “102.5 The Bone” WHPT Sarasota/Tampa added as a third party in the suit.

Bubba’s complaint (embedded below) states that Cox and Nielsen conspired against him and Beasley Media through a sting operation and use its monopoly power to interfere with his relationship with Beasley by artificially increasing WHPT’s market share. Clem states that Nielsen was using the competition to entice Cox to pay for additional services and conceal their own fraudulent conduct committed by its own employees including Calta (who had replaced Clem in mornings at WHPT).

Beasley Media terminated its relationship with Clem in Tampa in December 2016 and has since flipped his station to AC “B98.7“.

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Update 11/30/15: Nielsen Audio has amended its tampering complaint against Bubba The Love Sponge Clem with further details against the syndicated morning host.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that the amended suit was filed on Friday, November 27 and includes conversations between Clem and five PPM panelists.

From the Business Journal:

On August 1, 2015 at 3:04 p.m., Bubba Clem directed the Cooperating Panelist and his wife to listen heavily to iheart radio stations “93.3, 95.7, 97.9, 100.7, 103.5” and added “And some 98.7 too.” Also, Bubba Clem gave clear instruction that they should never listen to 102.5 and 94.1, competing radio stations that, upon information and belief, broadcast the programs of Bubba Clem’s main rivals.

On September 13, 2015, beginning at 3:22 p.m. Bubba Clem texted: “Buddy.Horrible week . . .” “2.75” “We got killed.” Bubba Clem then asked, “Did u miss a weekday last week.” The Cooperating Panelist explained that he had not been able to tune to Bubba Clem’s program for a short time because of a family emergency, to which Bubba Clem responded, “Two days of u missing. Kills us boss. Buddy it’s ok. Just can’t miss days. Cause it kills us. I know it sucks.”

Bubba Clem: “When do u get them. How many u getting” Panelist No. 3: “It says in the letter a few days and I should get 4” Bubba Clem: “Ok. We have to talk” Panelist No. 3: “I got ya cuzzie. Do you want me to wait till I get the diaries?” Bubba Clem: “[Direct message] me as soon as u get them” “You cannot call the show to discuss this” “[Direct message] me ur cell I’ll call u later”

Nielsen is still seeking $1 million in damages from Clem and Bubba Radio Network for five counts of fraud, interference with Nielsen’s business and contractual relations with Beasley, interference with business and relations with PPM panelists, conspiracy to defraud, and violating the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Update 10/16: Following Bubba The Love Sponge’s confession to paying a listener to keep his PPM device on his show, Nielsen is suing the syndicated radio host and his Bubba Radio Network for a minimum of $1 million in damages.

The suit states that Bubba was approached by a listener that an acquaintance had a PPM device leading to offering to pay said person $300 per month to help increase his ratings and with bonuses up to $400 per month if a target result was reached. The suit mentions that Bubba purchased additional radios for the panelist. He sent texts stating that “U have to PROMISE NOT TO SAY A WORD … This could ruin me.” and instructed him to occasionally tune to other stations in order to attempt to deflect the fraud from being detected.

Among the passages in Nielsen’s suit are:

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.

Bubba Clem boasted to the Cooperating Panelist that he had detailed working knowledge of the PPM device which included knowledge of how to circumvent the PPM’s motion-sensing technology. He described that by using certain tricks the Cooperating Panelist could make it appear that he was listening to Bubba Clem’s show even when the Cooperating Panelist was not carrying the PPM device.

Beasley Media, whose “Bubba 98.7” WBRN-FM Holmes Beach, FL is the flagship station for Bubba The Love Sponge’s morning show was not named in the suit.

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  1. Eric Jon Magnuson says

    Per Frank Saxe’s tweets tonight, the allegations may now also cover Charleston, S.C.

  2. Joseph_Gallant says

    Might the FCC now take action, such as fining stations that aired Bubba, and perhaps even stripping the license of Bubba flagship WBRN??

    1. johndavis says

      No. There’s no precedent for that.

    2. homerjay says

      On what grounds? The FCC has zero to do with ratings. That’s an issue between the station and Nielsen.

      1. Joseph_Gallant says

        True, but could the alleged ratings-tampering violations prompt the FCC to take some kind of action, although no FCC rules were violated?

  3. homerjay says

    Think that statement through. No rules violated so…..um…..how could they “take action” against something they have no jurisdiction over.

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