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FCC Commissioner Presses for Formal PPM Probe

'It is urgent that we undertake this investigation now.'

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is pressing Chairman Kevin Martin to investigate the Arbitron Portable People Meter.

The agency has taken public comments on whether it should get involved in the dispute over whether the PPM undercounts minorities; Martin has not said what, if anything, he intends to do on the issue.

In response, Arbitron reiterated that it doesn’t believe the commission has legal authority to get involved.

The audience research firm says the PPM electronically measures actual listening and is a more reliable audience indicator than paper diaries, which rely on recall.

Some minority groups say the PPM undercounts listeners to urban and Hispanic-formatted stations; the New York and New Jersey state attorneys general are looking into the charges.

In his letter to Martin, Adelstein wrote, “Given the continued rollout by Arbitron, despite numerous and repeated expressions of concern from members of Congress and those affected by the changes, it is urgent that we undertake this investigation now.”