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Bubba the Love Sponge Clem may face new tampering charges

Bubba the Love Sponge Clem tried to sway more panelists, Nielsen says.
Published Nov. 4, 2015

Radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem is facing new allegations of tampering with Nielsen radio ratings.

A statement from Nielsen said the company chose not to report audience estimates for WBRN-FM 98.7, Clem's station in the Tampa Bay market, in September and October because of new information that shows Clem may have attempted to influence more panelists.

Nielsen Audio filed a lawsuit against Clem last month, after the local radio host admitted to ratings-tampering charges. Clem told reporters during a short news conference last month that he was in touch with a Nielsen ratings panelist in July and August and that he tried to influence that person's listening habits.

"We cooperated fully with Nielsen to ensure the accuracy of their past and forthcoming ratings. Therefore, we were blind-sided and disappointed to learn that Nielsen Audio will exclude WBRN-FM from the October 2015 ratings," said Beasley Media Group president Bruce Beasley in a statement. Beasley Media, which is based in Naples, is the company that employs Clem as an independent contractor.

"The fallout from this dispute may inflict collateral damage on Beasley, which, indisputably, has done nothing wrong," Beasley said.

Clem and his staff have been required to undergo compliance training. His show was suspended for eight days.

Being "delisted" from Nielsen for two months could be damaging to Clem's show, the station and the company that owns it, as radio stations depend on ratings for advertisement sales. It is, however, a standard punishment in the case of ratings tampering.

Nielsen said the actual radio ratings themselves have not been affected in any market, so a data reissue is not necessary. Nielsen tracks panelists' listening habits on metering software by collecting information on what stations they listen to and for how long.

Clem's attorney, Todd Foster, said he has yet to see any information related to other alleged panelists in this case.

"I can't respond to something I don't know," Foster said. "In the civil complaint, it talks about one specific panelist 'and others.' We don't know who those 'and others' are."

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