Bubba, Nielsen Settle Ratings Tampering Lawsuit


ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — With minutes go before the end of a holiday week, one of the biggest radio industry stories in recent years reached a surprising conclusion.

At 4:42pm on July 6, the lengthy legal spat over ratings tampering between Bubba The Love Sponge Clem and Nielsen concluded, as the two parties reached an out-of-court settlement.

In a statement, Nielsen said that it reached an agreement with the Tampa-based nationally syndicated radio personality and his production company, The Bubba Radio Network.

The settlement resolves the legal action brought by Nielsen for alleged ratings tampering by Clem.

As part of the settlement, Nielsen says, Clem admitted that prior to the lawsuit he had not previously disclosed all contacts with Nielsen panelists.

Additionally, Clem disclosed that he is not presently in contact with any Nielsen panelist, and promised to never knowingly communicate with any active Nielsen panelist in the future.

Clem agreed to immediately notify Nielsen of any future contact with Nielsen’s active panelists.

Further, Clem agreed to make an undisclosed financial payment to Nielsen.

Any future infractions by Clem will be punishable by a court-ordered injunction, and additional financial damages payable to Nielsen.

“I understand how important it is to the radio industry that the Nielsen ratings be free from bias and I deeply regret interfering with Nielsen’s collection of listening data,” Clem said, in the Nielsen-distributed release..

For its part, Nielsen says it has accepted Clem’s statement that he regrets his past actions and that he will never engage in similar conduct in the future.

“Nielsen reaffirms that none of Clem’s contacts with Nielsen panelists materially impacted Nielsen’s audience estimates,” the company said. “Nielsen’s lawsuit was filed as part of an ongoing initiative to safeguard the impartiality of the company’s audio estimates and to protect the integrity of its ratings process.”

In October 2015, Nielsen went after Mr. Clem directly by filing a $1 million law suit in a Florida civil court over a ratings tampering case that wound its weigh through the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, leading to today’s out-of-court settlement.

In July 2016, an extra four months to prepare for trial was granted to both parties, and the judge allowed the information they exchanged to remain private.

There was an impasse after a mediation meeting.

The drama continued, with Streamline Publishing’s Radio Ink covering much of the trial’s progress.

The trial was finally expected to begin July 23. However, a one-page document was filed with the court on June 21 by judge James Whittemore directing both sides back into mediation.