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PPM Coalition Calls for FCC Intervention

Arbitron says rhetoric is overheated.

The PPM Coalition — a group comprising Entravision, ICBC Broadcast Holdings Border Media Partners, Univision, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and the Minority Media Telecommunications Council — told the Federal Communications Commission this week that Arbitron’s plan to roll out its Portable People Meter in eight additional markets where the product is not accredited is unprecedented.

It said commission intervention is required to “ascertain the facts and access potential harm to broadcast diversity.”

In a 70-page response, Arbitron maintains the commission lacks jurisdiction to investigate and says the coalition’s position contains “unsupported speculation and overheated rhetoric.”

Comments were due this week to Docket 08-187, on an emergency petition from the coalition calling on the FCC to investigate whether the PPM undercounts minorities. The coalition says it does and that the alleged undercounting could cost Hispanic and urban stations millions of lost ad revenue.

Arbitron disputes the allegations and says that a number of stations targeting minority audiences have maintained or actually increased their market ranking since the introduction of PPM.

Houston and Philadelphia now rely on PPM data for their audience ratings. Eight more markets — including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and San Francisco — are due to rely on PPM data only as of Oct. 8.

The commission has not yet decided if it will become involved in the dispute.