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Arbitron Leader Skarzynski Resigns

Congressman says he ‘may have provided false testimony’ at PPM hearing

Arbitron has a new chief executive after the unexpected resignation Monday of Michael Skarzynski.

The U.S. commercial radio industry’s dominant ratings research company said both its board and Skarzynski agreed that he violated a company policy in what the company said was a matter “unrelated to the financial performance of the company.” The company did not state what that matter was. Skarzynski was the Arbitron board’s choice to succeed Steve Morris in 2009.

Late Monday, Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, stated that “Skarzynski may have provided false testimony” at a Dec. 2 hearing on whether the Arbitron Portable People Meter discriminates against minority stations. Towns said he would review the matter “to determine whether the committee was intentionally misled and whether further action is warranted.” He gave no further details about what the offending testimony might be.

Current Arbitron board member Bill Kerr has succeeded Skarzynski as president and chief executive officer. The 68-year-old Kerr has been on the board since 2007. From July 2006, Kerr also has been board chairman of magazine publisher and TV station owner Meredith Corp.; before that he worked as Meredith’s president and chief operating officer from 1994 to 1996, and was president of the magazine group from 1991 to 1994. Arbitron Board Chairman Philip Guarascio said Kerrr’s Meredith experience makes him suited for the Arbitron post.

This development comes as Arbitron learned that although the Media Rating Council accredited the monthly Average Quarter Hour ratings data produced by the PPM in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the MRC denied PPM accreditation in 18 other markets.

Minneapolis-St. Paul joins Houston-Galveston and Riverside-San Bernardino as the only three accredited PPM markets.