Nielsen 2021

Nielsen has stopped short of delisting a radio station in the Tucson market after discovering that a household of a staff member from the station obtained and returned diaries for the December 2021 (October/November/December) Tucson Radio Market Report. The tainted diaries were discovered and removed from the sample before the ratings were released.

Under its Rating Distortion policy, Nielsen can delist stations when employees return diaries. But in a Client Product Notification issued on Thursday, Nielsen said it didn’t take that heavy-handed approach “given the circumstances of this specific case, which include the station's full and prompt cooperation with our assessment.” If it happens again, the measurement provider said its policy would be to delist the station.

Nielsen also didn’t name the radio station in the Product Notification sent to clients or in a Special Station Activity notice included in the Tucson Market Report.

“Nielsen expressly prohibits participation in its ratings surveys by any household associated with a radio station, and users of any Nielsen report can be confident that Nielsen has made every effort to ensure the integrity of the published estimates,” Nielsen said in the Product Notification and Special Station Activity notice.

Stations in New Orleans and Toledo weren’t as fortunate when employees were found to have obtained and returned ratings diaries. In December 2020, Nielsen took the serious action of delisting a pair of Michael A. Costello-owned stations in New Orleans: classic hits “Tix FM” WTIX-FM (94.3) and 80s Hits “Z104.5” KWMZ-FM. Nielsen said it caught the infraction and pulled the blemished diaries from its sample before releasing the October 2020 ratings. In November 2020 Nielsen delisted Urban Radio Broadcasting adult R&B “Mix 95.7” WIMX and hip-hop/R&B sister “Hot 97.3” WJZE Toledo for the same reason. The stations were removed from the October and November ratings for media-affiliated diaries that were sent in for the September 2020 survey.

In Thursday’s Product Notification, Nielsen includes a reminder about its Rating Distortion policy. “If an employee of your station is contacted by Nielsen to participate in any audience measurement survey, you should inform your Nielsen Client Service Representative right away. We also ask that you retain any printed materials Nielsen has sent,” it says. “We will provide instructions as to how to dispose of those materials.”