Arbitron has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Renda Broadcasting, alleging the broadcaster improperly gained access to copyrighted ratings. The action filed in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville alleges Renda violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act with unauthorized reproduction and distribution of Arbitron’s copyrighted audience estimates.
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Renda has 19 radio stations in six markets.
The case concerns Renda’s four Jacksonville FMs. In the document obtained by Radio World, Arbitron says subscribers are granted limited licenses to use its reports and databases and it retains ownership of all Arbitron audience estimates.
Renda has been and still is an Arbitron subscriber for “certain services in certain markets,” according to Arbitron, saying for Jacksonville specifically, Renda was a subscriber from 2008 until 2010. When its license agreement expired at the end of 2010, Renda chose not to resubscribe to audience estimates for Jacksonville and knew those stations “were not permitted to receive, use, copy or distribute” those copyrighted works, according to the audience research firm.
Renda obtained Arbitron audience estimates and station ratings for Jacksonville from a local advertising agency which was a subscriber, alleges Arbitron, which does not identify the ad agency in the filing. Arbitron believes “a senior executive at the agency was a long-time friend and business associate of Bill Reese, the general manager of the Renda Jacksonville radio stations,” states Arbitron in the lawsuit.
At first, Reese obtained paper copies of the audience estimates and later email copies after Renda was no longer an Arbitron subscriber, says Arbitron, which adds Reese then copied the ratings data and distributed the materials to other cluster executives. Reese allegedly told his agency contact he would shred the ratings materials “after use to conceal his nefarious acts,” states Arbitron.
Arbitron alleges that Renda Jacksonville DJ Arthur Crofton also contacted the unidentified agency executive, asking for the Arbitron ratings and promising “he would be discreet,” about it.
Renda made program and ad rate decisions based on the copyrighted Arbitron ratings, charges Arbitron, which sent Renda a cease and desist letter in December 2012. That’s when the agency executive notified broadcast owner Tony Renda that Reese had asked that Arbitron material be sent to him several times and the agency executive had complied.
Arbitron is seeking no less than $650,000 in damages, plus attorney’s fees.
Renda has not yet replied to the suit.
Arbitron recently filed a similar lawsuit against Saga.