Arbitron just filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Milwaukee, alleging that Saga’s Lakefront Communications there used copyrighted audience estimates from 2010-2012 to set ad rates and make programming decisions on a regular basis. Now they’re suing (6/18) Renda Broadcasting in Jacksonville for unauthorized use of its ratings/copyright infringement as well. Renda hasn’t been a subscriber to Arbitron since 12/10.
In the suit, Arbitron alleges Renda/Jacksonville GM Bill Reese illegally obtained copies of the Arbitron numbers from a local ad agency between 5/11 and 12/12. Arbitron says Reese got the numbers via his work e-mail account and forwarded them to SM Charlie Jennings and PD Chuck Beck. The stations include Country WGNE-FM and AC WEJZ-FM. The suit asks for at least $150,000 per infringing act plus attorney’s fees and enhanced damages, along with injunctive relief and at least $500,000 for inducement of the agency to infringe on the copyright.
The suit says the station “illicitly obtained copies of the Arbitron Reports and Database… from an advertising agency in or near the Jacksonville, Florida area from a senior executive of which was a long time friend and business associate of GM Bill Reese.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Arbitron headquarters are impressively close to the NSA….hmmm. But seriously, folks, any email that has information like this can be used against you and your station at any time. We’re not sure how Arbitron got the evidence, but it did. The whole scare tactic/make examples of broadcasters with these huge money lawsuits—while it certainly recoups any losses from Renda’s and Saga’s decision not to subscribe—may turn broadcasters against the company en masse. Yes, Arbitron is legally doing what is within their rights, but just wait until the panel sessions at NAB/RAB Radio Show.