Arbitron Replies To FCC Over PPM Dispute
October 7, 2008

Yesterday, executives from nine broadcasters sent reply comments in to the FCC, in relation to the proposed potential investigation by the Commission into Arbitron's PPM methodology. Now Arbitron has filed its own reply comments, in an 88-page document, again noting that the FCC does not have jurisdiction over Arbitron and its ratings systems.

In the reply comments, Arbitron opens by saying that the PPM Coalition's comments filed "substantially misapprehend the process used by the Media Rating Council to review and accredit audience measurement services, as well as the limitations imposed by our nation’s antitrust laws on that process. The Petitioners’ Comments significantly misstate the history of Nielsen Media Research's experience in commercializing its electronics-based Local People Meter television audience measurement service, which is functionally quite similar to Arbitron's Portable People Meter service."

"The Petitioners compound their error by disingenuously attempting to attribute that misstatement to the Executive Director of the MRC. The Petitioners in their Comments mischaracterize and overstate the differences between the PPM methodology that the MRC previously accredited for use in Houston and the PPM methodology -- known as 'Radio First' -- that is now commercialized in eight additional markets."

In the conclusion to its comments, Arbitron states that the company has "definitively disprove the proposition underlying the Petitioners’ principal complaint, to wit, that Radio First has a uniformly and disproportionately negative impact upon Urban-formatted and Spanish-language stations. With reference to independent reviews of Radio First data, and taking into consideration the opening comments that have been submitted in this docket by disinterested parties, Arbitron demonstrates that Radio First holds promise for the radio industry as a whole, including stations that serve African-American and Hispanic segments, and that government intervention that would have the effect -- whether intended or not -- of impeding the deployment of the innovative and 21st-century technology that Radio First represents would only harm radio broadcasting in competition with other media platforms that are migrating to similar forms of up-to-date, stateof-the-art electronics-based audience measurement services. Accordingly, Arbitron in these Reply Comments urges the Commission to deny the Petitioners’ Emergency Petition for Section 403 Inquiry, filed on September 2, 2008."

Meanwhile, Arbitron is sticking to its guns with yesterday's release of PPM ratings two days earlier than expected. The company confirms that the new PPM ratings are official 'currency' for stations, agencies and advertisers. "Radio broadcasters, agencies and advertisers independently determine whether or not to subscribe to Arbitron’s services and can freely decide how they wish to use our services in their business transactions," said Steve Morris, Arbitron President/Chairman/CEO. "Our goal with the commercialization of the PPM is to help radio remain competitive in an increasingly challenging media marketplace."

Arbitron also reiterated that the July and August PPM survey months, which had previously been released as "pre-currency" information, should now be used as "currency" data.




 
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Nikki Nite,
VP of Prog. & Ops,
Entercom/Austin

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