Major Broadcasters Send Arbitron An Ultimatum Over PPM Issues
November 15, 2007 at 1:44 PM (PT)
ALL ACCESS has obtained a copy of a letter sent to ARBITRON, and signed by CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO, CUMULUS MEDIA, COX RADIO and RADIO ONE INC. In it, the companies urge ARBITRON to address several pressing PPM issues that have recently been highlighted in NET NEWS.
Here's the text of that letter:
November 14, 2007
Mr. Steve Morris
Mr. Pierre Bouvard
Mr. Owen Charlebois
The Arbitron Company
142 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
It is with the utmost urgency and objection that we, your customers, send you this letter.
To date, PPM has not provided accurate or reliable data for all demographic groups. We are calling on you to take immediate action to resolve this.
All of us have been vocal supporters of the concept of electronic measurement in radio for several years, and we remain committed to the need for accurate, high quality electronic ratings as a way to program and sell our stations. As of this writing, the PPM system has been implemented in two markets for several months, with one month of information available in New York. To date, PPM has not provided accurate or reliable data for all demographic groups.
We are calling on you to take immediate action to resolve this.
The most immediate issue is sample size, especially with regard to 18-34 year olds and ethnic groups. The situation is clear: To secure a legitimate representation of listener activity, the number of people participating in the PPM survey must be increased.
Your recent proposal to lower the number of market-level respondents needed to issue a valid report for a specific demographic is both specious and dangerous. This proposal could result in some stations doing business based on the activity of as few as a single -- one -- listener. Your own researchers have concluded that such a sample size has a greater range of error than the size of the estimate.
There are many ethical and sound business choices that can be made by Arbitron here. One is to eliminate the 6-11 portion of the sample and reallocate those meters to participants in other demographics based on a 12+ population.
Under any circumstance, we expect guaranteed in-tab delivery in the 18-54 age group for all age cells and across all ethnic groups, including Hispanics and African Americans.
Please be aware that this is a critical and immediate issue for your customers undersigned and we are expecting an action plan to correct these matters within 30 days.
Clear Channel Radio -- Cumulus Media -- Cox Radio -- Radio One Inc.
When contacted by ALL ACCESS, ARBITRON had "no comment at this time."
'Low In Tabs Are Not Acceptable'
COX RADIO President/CEO BOB NEIL, commented to ALL ACCESS, "ARBITRON needs to understand that both radio broadcasters and agencies are united in demanding reliable audience estimates. Low In Tabs are not acceptable, and no programmer or media buyer can make good decisions if the data is bad. We've seen enough in HOUSTON and PHILADELPHIA ... along with the pre-currency reports in LONG ISLAND and NEW YORK to see that ARBITRON hasn't been taking these sampling issues seriously. Instead of their usual spin, we want action. Not months from now ... but right now."
Letter To Arbitron Is Not Surprising To The Council
ARBITRON ADVISORY COUNCIL Chairman and COX/GREENVILLE VP/GM STEVE SINICROPI told ALL ACCESS, "The letter that the broadcasters delivered to ARBITRON is not surprising to the COUNCIL at all. These are the same issues and concerns that the COUNCIL has been discussing with ARBITRON for a considerable period of time.
"The 6-11 cell was added to the sample universe in spite of opposition by the COUNCIL and we have been pushing for an 18-54 guarantee and improvements in 18-34 samples, particularly with Black and Hispanic In Tabs. Radio's demands in this letter are consistent with what all broadcasters want, need, and expect from ARBITRON. Until such time as the sample targets are reliable and consistent, there will continue to be real concerns to be addressed."
Europe Weighs In
And, it looks as if this controvery and letter has drawn the attention of EUROPEAN readers, as GENEVA-based FollowTheMedia.com has published their take on this with an article titled, "Wake Up And Smell The Coffee, Steve." To read it, just click here.
More on this developing story, as it happens.