A Glendale-based, Spanish-language radio station affiliated with Univision Communications is at the center of a ratings scandal that has prompted a Nielsen Media Research investigation.
And an executive at KSCA-FM, 101.9, has been fired for trying to artificially inflate the station's ratings in the wake of the probe.
Two problematic households have skewed data for the Los Angeles market — one related to the KSCA employee — and Nielsen plans to analyze the impact of the bad apples over the last year, according to a Nielsen prepared statement.
Nielsen measures ratings by using information provided by participating households in sample audiences. The Los Angeles sample includes 2,700 people.
Nielsen called the connection between the KSCA employee and the sample household "a serious violation of data integrity standards." Ratings credibility is important for Nielsen, a longtime leader in the measurement business that is seeing burgeoning competition.
In a prepared statement, Jose Valle, president of Univision Radio, said after being informed by Nielsen that a KSCA employee had access to ratings-measurement devices, the company took immediate action by terminating the unnamed employee, whom the Los Angeles Times reported was a programming executive.
"A radio station employee being related to a Nielsen participant seriously undermines the industry and is unacceptable," Valle said in the statement. "We will continue to cooperate fully and ensure the efficacy of our internal training and compliance programs, which will be ongoing across all Univision stations."
The other household involved in the investigation did not meet Nielsen's "quality-control standards," according to the statement.
Both households were included in Nielsen's April and May reporting periods, but the manipulation could stretch beyond that. In April, KSCA took the top spot in the Los Angeles market from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., known as the "morning drive."
Manipulated ratings would harm radio stations' bottom lines as the measurements are used to set advertising rates. Nielsen officials plan to take several steps to prevent a similar situation from happening again, including an "immediate and aggressive review" of policies and procedures.
In the statement, Nielsen also promised to "be transparent with the industry and share our plans as quickly as possible."