Radio research company Arbitron and a group of vocal broadcast critics have reached a settlement, vowing "to move forward collaboratively."
The PPM Coalition is an ad hoc group that has been concerned about the impact of Arbitron's Portable People Meter technology, particularly on minority owned and programmed stations. It includes ICBC Broadcast Holdings, Univision Communications, the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, Spanish Broadcasting System, The National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.
The coalition and Arbitron credited Rep. Edolphus Towns, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, for helping them agree, along with the Media Rating Council, which accredits ratings systems.
Towns, a Democrat from New York state, said this settlement includes "viable solutions and a realistic timetable" for addressing issues associated with use of the PPM.? He continued: "Undercounting minorities has plagued urban radio stations since Arbitron began using the PPM in 2007, threatening to dismantle diversity on the airwaves and the financial viability of minority targeted radio stations whose advertising revenues depend on the size of their rated audience." With this settlement, he said, "I believe that minority listeners will be counted and minority owned radio stations will work more closely with Arbitron in a collaborative effort to ensure the accuracy of ratings." But he promised to "closely monitor" the progress.
The settlement involves steps to enhance the recruitment methodology of the PPM service. "These enhancements include the addition of address-based sampling with targeted in-person recruiting to increase PPM panelist participation in key market segments," the two sides stated jointly.
Arbitron's CEO William Kerr said the company "remains committed to the continuous improvement" of PPM and to furthering MRC accreditation. Charles Warfield, COO of ICBC, called the process a "long and difficult journey" that ended with a positive step and "a spirit of collaboration."
NABOB Executive Director Jim Winston noted, "We've been talking with Arbitron for more than three years about PPM" and expressed pleasure with the outcome.
Media Rating Council CEO George Ivie said his organization "has been focused on seeking more in-person recruitment, meter-installation and respondent coaching, as well as improved sample distribution" as part of its proceedings. He described his organization's role as that of "an independent and neutral component of this ongoing dialogue."