Cumulus Gets A Nielsen Slap In Atlanta


Nielsen does not want radio stations learning the identity of its PPM panel participants. They are crystal clear on that. A contest Cumulus Atlanta Top 40 station WWWQ ran was leaning in that direction and Nielsen flagged the station for doing so. Nielsen notified subscribers, via a special notice, about the incident under the heading “Ratings Bias/Ratings Distortion.” Here are the details…

The Nielsen note says “starting approximately two and a half weeks before the April 2016 report, WWWQ-FM conducted a contest in which participants, alerted to the contest by an e-mail to loyal WWWQ-FM listeners, were instructed to ‘complete the [entry] form and answer all questions about yourself.’ For the first few days of the contest, the questions included the following: “If you were asked to be in a radio ratings project that required you to carry a device that recorded all of your radio listening, would you do it?” And potential responses to that question included: “Yes, in fact I’m participating in a ratings project right now.”

Nielsen says that question “explicitly asks contestants whether they are PPM panelists and they are concerned about any activity that may result in a station learning the identity of PPM panel members.”

Here’s the official media statement from Nielsen:

“The integrity of Nielsen ratings and the privacy of our panelists is of the utmost importance. In early April, an FM station in Atlanta conducted a contest where one of the questions and answers could have resulted in the station learning the identity of panel participants. Nielsen conducted an internal investigation and concluded that the contest did not appear to result in the station learning the identity of any PPM panelist.

“Special station activities tend to be different from one another and acting in full transparency, Nielsen added a special notation to the April 2016 eBook. 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.”

Nielsen said, in the letter to subscribers, that WWWQ management cooperated fully and Nielsen found no basis thus far for concluding that the contest resulted in WWWQ-FM learning the identity of any PPM panelist.


  1. The assumption that those who agree to carry a people meter are indicative of the population at large has always been a dangerous one. It could be very valuable information to learn if this station’s audience indexed higher, or lower, than the ‘norm’ in terms of PPM participation. I’m not seeing where the bias would be in answering this question.


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