Nielsen says sensational allegations made against it by Bubba “The Love Sponge” Clem are “entirely without merit” and that it will forcefully fight the Florida morning man’s latest counterclaims in court. “These latest claims are entirely without merit and Nielsen intends to vigorously defend against them,” a company spokesperson said, responding to a story published Tuesday in Inside Radio.
One month after a Florida court denied Clem’s motion to file the new allegations against Nielsen, he has now made a second attempt, this time with a somewhat scaled-back counterclaim against the ratings giant.
Filed Friday, Clem’s Motion for Leave to File Counterclaim repeats many of the allegations the host’s attorneys made last month but leaves out a third-party complaint against Cox Media Group. The newly proposed counterclaim charges Nielsen with tortious interference with contractual and business relationships, violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and civil conspiracy.
Specifically, it claims that Nielsen and CMG were in cahoots on a conspiracy to prevent Clem from broadcasting on Beasley Media Group’s WBRN-FM Tampa, in competition with CMG’s own “102.5 The Bone” WHPT. Clem’s attorneys allege that Nielsen interfered with the personality’s contractual relationships with Beasley, WBRN’s advertisers and Clem’s syndication partners. They also accuse Nielsen of unfair methods of competition, anticompetitive behavior and various violations of Florida law “in order to further the interests of a large Nielsen subscriber [CMG] over those of a smaller subscriber [Beasley].” Bubba’s legal team says this has cost their client millions of dollars in damages.
The proposed counterclaim also charges Nielsen with manipulating the Tampa ratings to the benefit of WHPT and the detriment of WBRN and says Nielsen unfairly applied its rules and imposed “unprecedented sanctions pressure” on Beasley to terminate its contract with Clem. On Dec. 12, 2016, Beasley dropped the syndicated personality from his flagship WBRN.
Clem’s attorneys argue that some 80,000 pages of documents Nielsen produced late in the discovery phase of the trial, most of which were marked as confidential, “continue to hamper” their ability to file a counterclaim.
Judge James Whitehorse’s Jan. 25 denial of Clem’s original proposed counterclaim was “without prejudice”meaning that the host was free to refile the counterclaim, which is in response to Nielsen’s $1 million ratings tampering suit against the embattled host.