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Two Lawmakers Question Arbitron About PPM

Democrats Inouye, Leahy urge that 'no station is unfairly harmed'; Arbitron pledges to continue MRC process.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said that before extending the Portable People Meter rollout to eight more markets, Arbitron should ensure that the system “accurately measures listening behavior” and that “no station is unfairly harmed.”

Some Hispanic and black broadcast leaders say the PPM undercounts those audiences; Arbitron disputes this.

Noting recent announcements by the state attorneys general in New York and New Jersey to look into PPM methodology, as well as the FCC’s decision to accept comments on the issue, Inouye and Leahy said in a letter to Arbitron that the PPM accreditation process by the Media Research Council in Houston appears successful.

“In light of the potential for severe harm to media diversity, we strongly encourage you to continue working with the MRC toward accreditation in all markets” slated for PPM rollout.

The lawmakers also asked Arbitron to keep them updated on the status of any federal and state proceedings related to the PPM.

Arbitron responsed to the Inouye/Leahy letter:

“We are pleased that Sen. Inouye and Sen. Leahy recognize the preeminent role of the Media Rating Council process as the driving force for quality improvements in the ratings services that the media industry counts on,” stated Steve Morris, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the company.

“Arbitron will continue to follow the minimum requirements of the MRC Voluntary Code of Conduct and will continuously strive to improve PPM radio ratings services.”

The company said that throughout the deployment of the PPM, it has voluntarily briefed elected officials and promised to keep Inouye and Leahy informed.

“Broadcasters have long called for the adoption of a more precise and credible audience measurement tool. They want to meet the increasing demands of advertisers who have called on radio to adopt a more accountable radio ratings system in top markets that would be on par with those of other media,” said Morris.