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Martin: FCC Role in PPM Dispute Is ‘Unclear’

'I'm still figuring out what we should end up doing'

It’s uncertain to Chairman Martin whether the FCC has the authority to get involved in the dispute over the Arbitron Portable People Meter.

Asked by Radio World during a press briefing whether the Federal Communications Commission has legal jurisdiction in the dispute over whether PPM undercounts Hispanic and African-American listeners — and if so, when it might make a decision — Martin said some people believe the agency does have the right to get involved and others don’t.

“I’m still figuring out what we should end up doing,” he said.

The commission took public comments on a petition filed by a coalition of Hispanic and African-American broadcasters, ad agencies and civil rights groups, asking the commission to get involved; Arbitron defends its PPM methodology and says the FCC has no legal jurisdiction to become involved in the dispute.

The New York and New Jersey state attorneys general filed suit against Arbitron last week, alleging the PPM methodology violates consumer protection, civil rights and consumer fraud laws. Arbitron filed its own suits in U.S. District Court, seeking to prevent the states from blocking its ability to continue the PPM rollout. Arbitron said PPM became the “currency” last week in eight additional markets.