Beasley Media Group has independently confirmed Nielsen Audio’s PPM tampering allegations against syndicated air personality Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem. In September, Clem was contacted by a Personal People Meter holder and then allegedly attempted to influence them to listen to WBRN(FM), a station in Beasley’s Tampa station group.
“Beasley strongly condemns the actions of Mr. Clem, who has provided syndicated programming to radio broadcasters for many years and is not a company employee,” said Beasley Media Group President Bruce Beasley in a press release. “We are taking appropriate steps to ensure that such conduct does not occur in the future. These steps include, but are not limited to, compliance training for Mr. Clem and his employees and the distribution of guidelines reiterating the importance of avoiding conduct that could cause ratings distortion, to all Beasley employees.”
He added that the company was unaware of Clem’s actions and thanked Nielsen for their efforts.
Nielsen Audio confirmed that this incident has no impact on the Tampa Bay radio market ratings because Nielsen excluded the PPM holder’s results from the survey. However, WBRN(FM), will not be included in the September 2015 ratings report.
This was not the first time that Clem has come under fire for inappropriate conduct. He was charged with animal cruelty after castrating a hog on live radio (although he and his co-defendents were acquitted) and has also been fined by the FCC for graphic on-air discussion about illegal drug use and sexual activity.
Nonetheless, a representative from Beasley said, “All indications are, Bubba will go on air tomorrow in Tampa and Ft Myers.”
When contacted for comment, a representative from Nielsen responded with this statement:
“Nielsen has evidence that a syndicated personality at WBRN(FM) in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater market engaged in attempted rating distortion in the form of attempted panel tampering. Per our policies, we notified Beasley, the station owner, and working closely with them to ensure that proper remediation measures will be implemented for WBRN(FM). We appreciate Beasley’s full cooperation during this process.
“As a result of these activities, and in accordance with our Rating Distortion guidelines, we are delisting WBRN(FM) in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater PPM Radio Market Report for the September 2015 report period. This attempted ratings distortion activity involved a program carried in additional markets; therefore, Nielsen is also adding a notation for one report period in the markets in which the program aired.
“The ratings themselves were not affected in any of the markets and for that reason, no data reissue is necessary. Nielsen is committed to maintaining the highest standards of data integrity and will continue to act swiftly to ensure that those standards are upheld, including taking additional measures if circumstances warrant.”
Comment from Clem was not immediately available.
Note: an earlier version of this story did not report that Clem was acquitted of the animal cruelty charge.