Arbitron — perhaps the most scrutinized supplier of services to stations, thanks to the importance of its ratings and its dominant business position among radio research firms — has received its share of criticism about how it responds to the needs of its customers.
The company is expanding its Radio Advisory Council and making other changes to increase the diversity of the group.
The council was founded in 1978; members are Arbitron subscribers who give feedback and advice to the audience research firm.
New President/CEO Bill Kerr said these changes will better reflect the evolving nature of the media industry. Arbitron is adding one seat each dedicated to network radio, digital radio — such as online radio stations and stations airing an HD Radio signal — and public radio.
The number of urban and Spanish-language broadcast representatives will be increased from one to two each. Four additional slots are being added for diary markets to place more focus on mid-sized and small markets, the company said.
Arbitron will add nine members to the council, bringing total membership to 33. The audience-research firm said current and recently-elected members will continue with their terms and Arbitron is inviting industry representatives to fill the newly created seats.
The company also plans changes to the advisory council meetings to make them more productive, including dedicated tracks for diary and Portable People Meter to discuss issues specific to those needs, as well as regular joint sessions between the radio and agency/advertiser councils to encourage talks between buyers and sellers.
"The representatives serve as valuable customer advocates and their input helps Arbitron align our plans with industry priorities. I look forward to our new meeting format, where I hope to engage in an open, two-way dialogue that will move the industry forward," stated Kerr.
The spring 2010 Radio Advisory Council meeting is slated for May 11–12 in Annapolis, Md.