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Judge Rules SBS Must Continue to Encode for PPM

SBS says Arbitron treats customers with 'disdain'

Spanish Broadcasting System must continue to encode for the Arbitron Portable People Meter.

SBS and the PPM Coalition are none too happy about that outcome.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Shirley Kornreich made the ruling this week. Earlier the court had issued a temporary restraining order sought by Arbitron, requiring SBS to resume PPM encoding at nine properties in five cities.

SBS contends that PPM undercounts listeners in Hispanic and urban communities, something the audience research firm denies.

In its first statement on the situation, the broadcast company said Arbitron has not lived up to its contractual obligation to deliver reliable and accurate ratings and that’s why it stopped encoding. Saying that Arbitron treats its customers with “disdain,” SBS said it nevertheless would follow the judge’s order to encode and “looks forward to presenting a full defense and having the court adjudicate the full merits of the case.”

Similarly, the PPM Coalition reacted with disappointment that the court continued the injunction, saying the court had been concerned only with the contractual relationship between Arbitron and that SBS “and could not consider the more significant issue of the decimation of diversity on the nation’s airwaves.”

The coalition is hoping to draw the attention of Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the state attorneys general “to provide relief from this serious problem.”

The PPM Coalition members are the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the Spanish Radio Association, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, Border Media Partners, Entravision Communications, ICBC Broadcast Holdings, Spanish Broadcasting System and Univision Communications.

At a House oversight hearing in December, SBS was among PPM’s critics; the company also urged the Federal Communications Commission to open a Notice of Inquiry on whether PPM undercounts minorities.