Nielsen Makes Clean Sweep In Middle Of Sweeps, Fires Execs 'For Cause'
"We made some appropriate changes in HR in Radcliff," Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting confirmed, referring to the acronym for human resources, but declined to comment further, referring questions to Nielsen communications chief Jack Loftus.
Loftus also would not discuss the reasons for the firings, but said they were "for cause" and were not related directly to Nielsen's operations. He also said the dismissals do not appear to have affected Nielsen's operations, especially the response rates and timing of the release of the February sweeps reports.
"Right now it appears that the response rates are actually tracking a little ahead of February 2005," he said, adding that Nielsen was poised to begin distributing the February sweeps books to stations.
The eight full-time managers represent between 2 percent and 3 percent of the Radcliff facility's 300 to 400 employees, who are mostly part-time workers who make randomly dialed phone calls to people inviting them to participate in Nielsen's surveys, and who make follow-up calls to make sure they are actually filling them out. Those workers tend to be retirees, working moms, or schoolteachers who have flexible schedules and can work hours at a time, Loftus said. He added that the Radcliff facility was the smaller of Nielsen's two call centers, the other being its main facility in Oldsmar, Fla.
While Loftus declined to comment on the specific cause for the dismissals, it is believed to have been for some form of inappropriate behavior unrelated to Nielsen's operations. Rumors have been swirling for weeks about a federal probe at the facility, but Loftus denied any investigation. David Beyer, chief division counsel and media coordinator for the Federal Bureau Investigation in Louisville, Ky., based 40 miles from Radcliff, confirmed that the office has been hearing rumors of an FBI probe for weeks, but said he was unaware of any investigation.
However, Neal Landeau, an executive in Nielsen's Oldsmar facility, was arrested by local authorities on child pornography charges following an FBI probe, according to a report by the St. Petersberg Times. "Landeau came to the attention of authorities in April 2003 when he inadvertently copied work files to a computer disc containing pornographic images, said [Pinellas County, FL.] sheriff's Sgt. Jim Bordner. He brought the disc to the office, where a colleague discovered the images and contacted the FBI," the paper reported on March 10.
The paper also reported that Nielsen officials said Landeau continues to work for the company.