Make us your home page
Instagram

Bubba the Love Sponge says he was talking with fans, not tampering with ratings

Bubba Clem says the latest cases against him, unlike the first, were “fan-initiated contacts.”

Bubba Clem says the latest cases against him, unlike the first, were “fan-initiated contacts.”

TAMPA — Bubba the Love Sponge Clem moved Friday to have the ratings-tampering lawsuit against him thrown out of federal court, arguing that he had already been punished and Nielsen can't prove it was harmed by his actions.

Nielsen, a company that measures the popularity of radio and TV shows, sued Clem in October, alleging that the Tampa shock jock offered cash to one of its survey participants in return for listening to Clem's show more often. The company said later he had talked to four more participants, though it didn't accuse him of paying them.

Clem argued Friday that the first accusation had already been resolved: He apologized, he was suspended and Nielsen briefly stopped publishing ratings for WBRN-FM, a potentially costly and embarrassing blow for the radio station that airs his show in the Tampa Bay area.

The motion says the other cases were "stray non-fraudulent, fan-initiated contacts" — that he was just talking to fans who had reached out to him.

"That is not fraud, and Nielsen cannot make it fraud by building a nearby tower of allegations of unrelated interactions which it hopes will distract from an otherwise unsupported narrative," the motion says.

Nielsen and its attorney, Mark Ragusa, did not immediately return requests for comment.

The company has said that it was able to take the suspect data out of its survey, so its ratings figures were not affected. Clem argues that means Nielsen wasn't hurt by his behavior, even though the company has claimed $1 million in damages.

"They say in their own complaint that they nipped this in the bud," said Todd Foster, Clem's attorney.

Clem and his attorneys have asked for oral arguments on the motion, but no hearing had been set as of Friday afternoon.

Industry followers say it's rare for a radio host to be accused of tampering with ratings, much less to be sued for it. But, they say, ratings are valuable in the radio business because they're used to set advertising rates. Even a seemingly small increase could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Nielsen's accusations could spell trouble for Clem, a controversial radio host who's made headlines in the past for presiding over the slaughter of a pig on the air and for recording a sex tape of pro wrestler Hulk Hogan.

Speaking on his show Tuesday, Clem acknowledged that his future on the air was in question, and he said he wasn't sure if his show would return from a holiday break.

"It's up in the air," he said.

Bubba the Love Sponge says he was talking with fans, not tampering with ratings 12/11/15 [Last modified: Friday, December 11, 2015 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The FHP trooper behind quota on speeding tickets will retire Sept. 5

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A Florida Highway Patrol official's call for troopers to meet ticket quotas has cost him his job.

    Major Mark D. Welch, Troop Commander of Troop H, wrote an email asking his employees that he wants them to write two citations each hour. "This is not a quota," he wrote. His resignation is effective Sept. 5. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  2. Trump shuts down CEO advisory councils as main group acts to disband

    Business

    President Donald Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, "rather than …

    President Donald Trump meets with Merck's chief executive, Kenneth Frazier, second from left, and other leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in the Roosevelt Room of the White House last January. On Wednesday, Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.
[New York Times file photo]
  3. A long-awaited vision for Tampa's Westshore Marina District

    Real Estate

    TAMPA —Eleven years after plans to develop a waterfront tract on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge were first announced, a new rendering gives a hint of what Westshore Marina District ultimately will look like.

    Rendering of Marina Pointe, a condo project overlooking Tampa Bay as part of the Westshore Marina District. [Courtesy of Masterfile Corp.}
  4. Buddy Brew Coffee to open downtown Tampa location

    Business

    TAMPA — Buddy Brew Coffee plans to open a new location in downtown Tampa at Park Tower in early 2018. The specialty coffee craft roaster, which was founded in 2010, has five other locations throughout Tampa including the Oxford Exchange, Sarasota, Hyde Park Village and Terminal F inside the Tampa International …

    A cappuccino is displayed at Buddy Brew in Tampa in January 2017. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  5. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.