The Bubba The Love Sponge (Todd Clem) ratings tampering case with Nielsen just took an interesting turn. Bubba has filed a 46-page counterclaim against Nielsen, and has dragged Cox and Cox Tampa morning man Mike Calta into the case, claiming they conspired against him and Beasley Media.
Bubba claims Nielsen’s motivation for participating in the conspiracy with Cox was three-fold: to appease Cox, one of its largest customers, by using its monopoly power to interfere with Clem’s contractual relationship with Beasley and artificially increasing Cox-owned WHPT’s share in the Tampa Market; to encourage Cox to enter into new contracts to purchase expensive products and services from Nielsen; and to conceal the fraudulent conduct committed by its own employees and the various other serious flaws in its ratings methodology caused by, among other things, Nielsen’s internal policies that promote the manipulation of ratings for the benefit of larger clients and its total failure to maintain and/or implement and/or fairly apply quality control.
Bubba alleges that after his contract was not renewed by Cox, and he was hired by Beasley, Cox and new morning man Mike Calta conspired with Nielsen after ratings on Bubba’s former station WHPT declined and ratings on his new affiliate WBRN increased. Bubba claims Cox management “set out to eliminate Clem as competition in the Tampa Market.” And that led to a phone call in April 2015, between Calta and Bubba, that aired live on both stations.
The countersuit claims that during the call, Calta, acting with permission and consent of Cox,
falsely claimed that WBRN’s ratings were improving because Clem was tampering with the ratings. “Specifically, Calta made the following false statements about Clem: (a) that Clem was cheating Nielsen’s ratings system; (b) that Clem had control over PPMs; (c) that Clem had PPMs on watch winders in a shed and/or a shipping container; (d) that Clem had purchased a PPM from his dentist’s nurse; and (e) that after Clem left WHPT, he stopped using the PPMs he allegedly had control over to benefit WHPT, causing its ratings to fall.”
The Bubba counterclaim alleges that Cox encouraged Calta’s on-air defamatory statements about Clem. “Cox clearly adopted Calta’ s defamatory statements as well. This is demonstrated by the fact that after the statements were made by Calta on WHPT’s morning show, Cox archived a tape of the live on-air conversation between Calta and Clem and promoted it on their website and on various social media outlets as the ‘Mike Calta Show Featured Cut’ and directed their audience and various news agencies to ‘[h]ear Mike Calta put Bubba in his place.’”