Nielsen concludes L.A. radio ratings probe; Univision not sanctioned


Ratings giant Nielsen on Wednesday said it has concluded its investigation into inaccurate ratings in the Los Angeles radio market, but stopped short of sanctioning Univision Communications for alleged unethical conduct by a former station executive.

Last month, Nielsen discovered that a high-ranking Univision Radio executive at the company’s Los Angeles station, KSCA-FM (101.9), had access to several of Nielsen’s portable people meter devices that pick up audio signals. Nielsen uses data transmitted from the devices to determine which radio stations have the most listeners.

It is a violation of Nielsen rules for a station employee to have access to the devices. Univision quickly fired the executive and announced more rigorous ethics training sessions for its employees. No other station executives were reprimanded.


Nielsen notified radio stations on Wednesday that despite the problems it found with two households that were removed from its sample audience in Los Angeles, the agency would not go back and reissue the ratings for last year or the first quarter of 2014.

The ratings agency said its review found that the only dramatic swings in ratings were for KSCA, the Univision station.

“The analysis revealed that significant differences in the estimates from April 2013 to March 2014 were isolated primarily to a single [Univision] station ... and that there were minimal differences in the estimates for the overwhelming majority of other stations in the market,” Nielsen said in a memo sent to L.A. radio stations that was reviewed by The Times.

For the other stations, “we found that 98.8% of the records had less than a 5% difference between the originally published” data.

“We have concluded that a reissue of prior currency data would be of limited commercial benefit to customers and would result in further disruption to the marketplace,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen’s memo did not mention Radio Centro’s KXOS-FM (93.9), which also saw major changes in its ratings. Its morning audience share fell 37% in May, compared with the tainted April numbers.

Nielsen handled the alleged ratings manipulation in Los Angeles different than it did with a similar case last fall in Fresno.

Earlier this year, Nielsen “delisted” a radio station group in Fresno after an employee was found to have participated by submitting diaries that Nielsen uses to calculate ratings in smaller markets.

In that case, Nielsen removed three radio stations owned by JSA Broadcasting from its ratings survey.

Nielsen said in a statement that it “is committed to upholding the highest standards of data integrity and acts swiftly to meet those standards,” and that it has taken measures to prevent future similar cases.

Meanwhile, Univision’s KSCA posted another surge in the morning ratings in the month of June.

KSCA’s show “El Bueno, La Mala y El Feo” returned to the top spot in the morning drive period, according to June numbers from Nielsen. For the weekday 6-10 a.m. time slot, KSCA earned a 5.1 share of radio listening in the period that ended June 18.

That share is 24% greater than the number the station earned during the previous month for the time slot that is considered prime time for radio.

This follows KSCA’s previous surprise jump to No. 1 in April, in which “El Bueno, La Mala y El Feo” soared over the likes of KIIS-FM (102.7) morning host Ryan Seacrest and “Kevin & Bean” on KROQ-FM (106.7).

KXOS stayed essentially flat in June compared with May by notching a 2.8 share and holding the line in 14th place.

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT; @rfaughnder