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Programmers Debate PPM Merits as Arbitron Prepares for Houston Test

Programmers Debate PPM Merits as Arbitron Prepares for Houston Test

The initial data from Arbitron’s Portable People Meter test in Houston is due out in mid-May. If eventually accepted by the industry, the PPM would mean Arbitron is no longer limited to the quarter hour as the smallest time period measured. Minute-by-minute estimates are possible. Arbitron’s Bob Michaels told consultants gathered for the annual meeting with the ratings firm that with the new measurement system, a station would know if a significant amount of listeners tune out when certain material airs.
Arbitron says programmers want this level of specificity, but some consultants say programmers are already buried in data and do not see the demand.
Steven Goldstein of Saga Communications and chair of the station group that advises Arbitron, said the council has endorsed the Houston test, but not the PPM.
“If PPM doesn’t work, don’t buy it. We have to know if it works,” he said to attendees.
In the meantime, he said, “We’re going to be in the diary business a long time,” noting that even if the PPM does go forward, some markets may still use both diaries and the PPM and some small markets won’t see the PPM used.
Arbitron is still hoping Nielsen will be a partner on the PPM project and expects an answer from the TV ratings company in the first quarter of 2006, Guyther said.