Cox, Inner City Joined By Saga On PPM Open Letter To Arbitron And Radio
June 4, 2008 at 5:00 AM (PT)
Two weeks ago (NET NEWS 5/21), COX RADIO Pres./CEO BOB NEIL and INNER CITY BROADCASTING Pres./COO CHARLES WARFIELD joined together with an open letter to the Industry insisting on MRC accreditation.
Now, NEIL and WARFIELD are joined by SAGA President/CEO ED CHRISTIAN. In another open letter to the Industry, they are calling for MRC accreditation of the PHILADELPHIA system to be used in the upcoming PPM rollout markets set for 2008: NEW YORK, LONG ISLAND, LOS ANGELES, RIVERSIDE, CHICAGO, SAN FRANCISCO. SAN JOSE, DALLAS, WASHINGTON, D.C., DETROIT and ATLANTA -- as well as drastic improvements in the PPM sample size.
This methodology in Houston is more expensive, but this issue is not going to get any less expensive for Arbitron if they continue to stonewall and delay.
ALL ACCESS spoke to BOB NEIL about reaction to the last letter, and what he expects from this one. "I've had no feedback from ARBITRON since our last campaign two weeks ago, but I am a lot more careful about opening packages these days. On the radio front, tons of support. I'm joined in this call for ARBITRON to get it right by INNER CITY's CHARLES WARFIELD and now SAGA's ED CHRISTIAN; we're here to say, 'ARBITRON it's time to get the science and the sample right'.
"This new open letter is a hard-hitting campaign; this is nothing that wasn't said on our shareholders' conference call -- and the bonuses are info from SEC documents. We have to be sure that ARBITRON takes their responsibility as a monopoly seriously. This requires more responsibility than if there were several ratings companies in competition."
NEIL went on to question the intentions of ARBITRON. "Are they incentivized to do the right thing? The ARBITRON board can bonus their people any way that they want to -- but bonusing them on this rollout when the product isn't right yet sends the wrong message to customers.
"ARBITRON is charging us 65% more a for a product that's not ready for prime time, and has some important demos indexing at 70%, which they feel is a great accomplishment. This is not right. What needs to be right is the science. That's where the MRC comes in."
NEIL urged others to get involved. "I would encourage folks who have questions about this -- and are not comfortable calling STEVE MORRIS or PIERRE BOUVARD about this -- to make sure that your group's management understands your concerns. I realize that this is complicated issue, but they can make a difference by speaking out.
"Earlier this week (6/2), I was on a roundtable call and I asked PIERRE BOUVARD three separate times what would it take to get them to use the HOUSTON accredited methodology. He wouldn't answer. I have the answer -- spend the money to get this right. Give us what you promised us when we signed on."
'Radio Takes It In The Pants'
CHARLES WARFIELD was equally passionate, telling ALL ACCESS, "I applaud COX in their willingness to address these critical issues -- this not a Black issue; this is broadcasting industry issue. We all want electronic measurement; ARBITRON has to get it right. They can only hold up HOUSTON as getting it right ... not one other market.
"We have been challenging and addressing PPM's shortcomings for years now and there is no timetable to correct them. Radio takes it in the pants, while ARBITRON execs benefit financially from this rollout schedule."
Sampling is very important to WARFIELD: "ARBITRON needs to fix PPM and they need to get the proportionality correct -- which is vital ... and we're asking ARBITRON to do the right thing and roll out electronic measurement that has the confidence of the entire broadcasting industry ... and we are not there.
"Why should the industry be happy with 70% indexing? Deliver the product we bought and were promised. Get this right and we will be there to support you. Had PPM rolled out in NYC, it would have been out of the pockets of the radio industry. Why should we trust them? If they can get accreditation for HOUSTON, why can't they apply this methodology to other markets. I don't control their P&L; we are asking that they just do the right thing.
"We know this methodology in HOUSTON is more expensive, but this issue is not going to get any less expensive for ARBITRON if they continue to stonewall and delay."