BALTIMORE, AUG. 1 -- A Bethesda man has been charged with pirating confidential data and equipment from the Arbitron television rating service and giving them to a prime competitor, the A.C. Nielsen Co., federal prosecutors said today.
Barry David Glick, 45, a former Arbitron employee, was charged in federal court with one count of interstate transportation of stolen property.
According to charging papers, Glick sent numerous internal Arbitron memos, a company manual and a high-tech "remote control device" to Nielsen early this year in hopes of persuading Nielsen to hire him as an "independent consultant." Prosecutors estimate the value of the allegedly stolen material at more than $200,000.
Nielsen officials immediately notified Arbitron after receiving the material, prosecutors said, and both companies alerted the FBI.
Spokesmen for Arbitron and Nielsen said they know of no similar case in the industry in recent years.
Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus said the Arbitron material was not circulated beyond the board chairman and law department at Nielsen and that its confidentiality was not compromised.
Of the person who sent the material, he said, "What'd he expect us to do, give him a medal?"
Glick, a D.C. police officer from 1969 to 1973 and a former official of the Police Foundation, a Washington-based research organization, has not been arrested but is expected to report to federal court here soon. His attorney, Robert Plotkin, would not comment on the case. Glick could not be reached for comment.
If convicted, Glick could face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Maryland U.S. Attorney Breckinridge L. Willcox said Glick worked for Arbitron from August 1988 until March of this year as a quality control specialist in the meter operations division in Laurel, where he had access to confidential information.
Arbitron, like other rating services, installs meters on the television sets of selected homes to record what channels and time periods are used as a way of measuring viewer preference in the hotly competitive television entertainment industry.
The rating services also compete for radio and television station clients who buy their reports showing viewer and listener preference by age, sex, race and time-of-day listening habits. Each rating service has developed its own technology and guards it from competitors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale P. Kelberman described the memos that Glick allegedly sent Nielsen as dealing with "ongoing research" in meter monitoring technology. He said the remote-control device was a "hand-held computerized device for measuring viewer response in TV programming."
Nielsen spokesman Loftus said the Arbitron material was mailed in two or three shipments to Nielsen's now retired board chairman, Jim Lyons, in Northbrook, Ill.
"The chairman saw it for what it was and immediately forwarded it to our law department," Loftus said. No other Nielsen employees saw the material, he said.