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MRC Denies PPM Accreditation in 18 Markets

Metering technology again fails to win standards approval in New York and Philly

Arbitron officials might be forgiven for reaching for the Tylenol bottle this week.

In addition to the unexpected departure of its top executive, the company got bad news about its application for standards approval for the PPM in 21 markets.

The Media Ratings Council has certified the Arbitron Portable People Meter for use in one additional market but denied 18 others and closed audits in the remaining two. The council is an industry-funded standards organization created at the urging on Congress in the 1960s to encourage accurate audience research in broadcasting.

The markets that were denied PPM accreditation are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Washington. Further, the MRC closed without action its audits for San Francisco and San Jose; these two markets remain unaccredited.

Arbitron said it will collaborate with the MRC to re-audit each of the unaccredited markets in 2010.

The news this week is the second denial for New York and Philadelphia, where the MRC declined to accredit the PPM in early 2008.

However, the council did accredit PPM in Minneapolis-St. Paul, which uses phone-based “Radio First” recruiting. Arbitron said it’s encouraged by the approval in this market, which, the ratings company said, “further validates” its Radio First methodology.

Minneapolis-St. Paul joins Houston-Galveston and Riverside-San Bernardino as accredited PPM markets. Arbitron also uses phone-based Radio First recruiting in Riverside. The company uses an address-based recruiting method in Houston.

Arbitron said it understands the MRC’s need to close out old audits and believes that in all PPM markets it has demonstrated “significant progress and ongoing commitment to improvement requested by the MRC.” It said it looks forward to working with MRC on the accreditation process.

The MRC doesn’t discuss its methods for approving or denying accreditation.