Clear Channel, Cox, Cumulus, Inner City, Radio One, Saga Send Open Letter To Arbitron
June 23, 2008 at 2:20 PM (PT)
As first reported in ALL ACCESS yesterday (NET NEWS 6/22), CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO Pres./CEO JOHN HOGAN, COX RADIO Pres./CEO BOB NEIL, CUMULUS Pres./CEO LEW DICKEY, INNER CITY BROADCASTING Pres./COO CHARLES WARFIELD, RADIO ONE CEO ALFRED LIGGINS, and SAGA Pres./CEO ED CHRISTIAN have sent a strongly worded, four-point letter about PPM citing Industry expectations and confidence concerns to ARBITRON Chairman/Pres. & CEO STEVE MORRIS, Pres./Sales & Marketing PIERRE BOUVARD, and Pres./Technology and Research & Development OWEN CHARLEBOIS.
We understand the need for and remain ardent supporters of having a high quality electronic ratings measurement tool for the radio industry. But, what Arbitron has produced to date does not meet our expectations of a high quality measurement tool.
The letter touches on these four key points:
1. 18-54 Sample Size /Sample Size Guarantee
2. 18-34 Sample Sizes (All Demos Including Ethnic)
3. Childrens (Age 6-11) Measurement
4. MRC Accreditation For Radio First Methodology Prior To Commercialization
While the letter specifically details the requests of these six powerful radio companies, there is no hint of what course of action that CLEAR CHANNEL, COX, CUMULUS, INNER CITY, RADIO ONE, or SAGA would take if ARBITRON doesn't fulfill their requests.
Interesting to note that major group subscribers like BEASLEY, BONNEVILLE, CITADEL/ABC, CBS, EMMIS, ENTERCOM, ENTRAVISION, GREATER MEDIA, SALEM, and SBS are not signatories to this letter.
Arbitron: No Comment. Dan Mason, Rick Cummings: PPM Should Proceed. Bob Neil: PPM Isn't Ready
ALL ACCESS contacted ARBITRON SVP/Press And Investor Relations THOM MOCARSKY, who had "no comment at this time."
CBS RADIO Pres./CEO DAN MASON commented, "We do not believe that delaying commercialization of PPM data is in the best interest of the industry. We support the new methodology and have every confidence in ARBITRON that they will continue to improve the service and deliver us information that will help elevate our accountability with our clients."
EMMIS RADIO President RICK CUMMINGS told ALL ACCESS, "While EMMIS agrees with many of the 'industry expectations' cited in the letter, we did not agree that a further postponement of PPM currency was in the best interests of the industry. Therefore, we declined to sign the letter. We do continue, however, to work with ARBITRON closely on achieving a more robust PPM panel sample, particularly with listeners under 35 and with minorities.
"We believe the benchmarks established by the RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL were inadequate. ARBITRON needs to continue to raise the bar in areas like 18-34 DDI and response and compliance rates and we urge ARBITRON to continue improving those, meaningfully, as PPM becomes official currency this FALL."
COX RADIO CEO BOB NEIL disagreed, telling ALL ACCESS: “ARBITRON claims the industry has confidence in the currency. I think this shows some big broadcasters do not. We don’t want some nebulous “continuous improvement” goal. These are specific targets, with real dates, and penalties if it doesn’t get done. We bought a product that was advertised as ready to go. It isn’t.”
Consultant RANDY KABRICH said, "We believe the benchmarks established by the RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL were inadequate. ARBITRON needs to continue to raise the bar in areas like 18-34 DDI and response and compliance rates and we urge Arbitron to continue improving those, meaningfully, as PPM becomes official currency this FALL.
"Unfortunately, the RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL did not establish benchmarks. ARBITRON did -- and these were the only benchmarks that ARBITRON would give -- take it or leave them."
Chuck DuCoty Responds
NRG MEDIA COO and ARBITRON RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL Chairman CHUCK DUCOTY commented to ALL ACCESS about the letter: "When I look at the four points that they've laid out, the AAC has never taken a position on stopping/starting PPM. The first three points could come right out of ARBITRON ADVISORY COUNCIL minutes.
"Our biggest concern is that sample is big enough and properly distributed. It's been our position that the 6-11 meters need to be redeployed to the 12+ sample. The council's position is that as long as ARBITRON is aggressively pursuing MRC Accreditation, it was not necessary for rollout. I don't think MRC Accreditation will fix the sample problems. Ask someone in a diary market if they are happy with the sample. I am pretty confident that 90% of them will tell you no.
"One of our big sample issues is conversion ratios. ARBITRON said that the conversion ratio of meters to diaries is .44 to 1 ... so if you have 1,000 diaries in a given market, you'd have statistical reliability with 444 meters.
"The problem is that ARBITRON made those conversions on 12+ diaries, but ARBITRON spread them out to 6-11 so conversion ratio is less .44 to 1. When we get into smaller PPM markets, the issue of sample size will be greatly exacerbated."
To read the full text of that letter, just click here.