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Arbitron PPM Gets More Congressional Attention

Conyers, others seek GAO review

Another congressional committee is asking questions about the Arbitron Portable People Meter. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has asked the Government Accountability Office to study the PPM and its effect on ad revenue for stations.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee too is looking into complaints that PPM undercounts minorities; the Federal Communications Commission has an open Notice of Inquiry on the topic — a step short of a formal review.

This week, Arbitron said in a statement it “welcomes every opportunity to discuss the PPM technology, service and our sampling methodology” and continues to talk “with key members of Congress as well as other interested parties” about PPM.

“Considerable concern has been raised by broadcasters about the accuracy of data collected by the Arbitron Portable People Meters,” stated Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan. “The advertising revenues and viability of minority-owned radio stations depends on an accurate measurement of their audience ratings. I believe it would best serve the public interest to conduct an independent review of the methodology and accuracy of this process.”

Fellow Dems signing the letter include Reps. Rick Boucher of Virginia, Hank Johnson of Georgia, Maxine Waters and Linda Sanchez of California, Mike Quigley of Illinois, Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Edolphus Towns of New York.

Towns chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Darrell Issa of California is the sole Republican signing onto the effort.

They asked the GAO to study Arbitron’s share of the terrestrial radio ratings business, the methodology behind PPM survey samples and how PPM has affected station revenues and to conclude its study by April 2010.