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SBS Stops PPM Encoding Following Judge’s Ruling

Radio group and Arbitron also are set to talk before mediator

Spanish Broadcasting System says it has shut off all of its Arbitron Portable People Meter encoders; yet it also will soon begin mediation talks with the audience research firm in an effort to end their dispute.

Former Fordham Law School dean John Feerick is the mediator.

Arbitron wants every station in a market to encode for PPM, even so far as giving encoders to non-subscribers, because not encoding affects the ratings for all other PPM stations in a market.

SBS says New York Supreme Court Judge Shirley Kornreich disagrees, saying Arbitron hasn’t proven that SBS’s failure to encode would devalue the ratings Arbitron provides to other subscribers. The judge lifted her temporary restraining order that had prevented the broadcaster from turning off the encoders.

SBS and some other broadcast owners say the PPM ratings undercount minority listeners; Arbitron has been working to increase the number of minorities in its panels and has announced plans to get panelists through address-based sampling, a more expensive system than the current phone-based system.

The concerns of some minority broadcasters about PPM have been raised to the FCC, Congress and the attorneys general of several states. The FCC has not said whether it’s going to conduct a review; Congress has held a hearing on the issue.