Now Obama And Durbin Weigh In On PPM
September 30, 2008 at 4:09 AM (PT)
The ongoing battle between minority broadcasters and ARBITRON took a Presidential twist late last night, when ARBITRON Pres./CEO STEVE MORRIS received a letter signed by Democratic Presidential candidate and ILLINOIS Senator BARACK OBAMA and fellow ILLINOIS Senator RICHARD DURBAN, urging the company to delay PPM's rollout to new markets -- including CHICAGO, which both represent. In the letter, they wrote:
"We are writing to express concern with the planned commercial expansion of ARBITRON, INC.'s new electronic measurement service, the PORTABLE PEOPLE METER (PPM), to eight new markets -- including CHICAGO -- on OCTOBER 8th, 2008. We urge you to delay the rollout until the system is accredited by the MEDIA RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC).
We urge you to delay the rollout until the system is accredited by the Media Research Council.
"Delay is in the best interest of consumers, broadcasters and advertisers. Experts agree that a properly implemented PPM system is more accurate that the paper and pencil diary system currently in use. However, ARBITRON plans to commercialize a PPM system based on a methodology that was denied MRC accreditation and as a result, we can only conclude that it does not accurately reflect the behavior of all consumers, including minorities. As you know, failures in accuracy unrelated to the technology are not only possible, but likely, without careful execution and proper selection of participants. MRC accreditation is the only third-party tool we have to judge whether or not the system is being properly implemented. And the implications of poor implementation of a new PPM system for the public interest are too serious to ignore.
"We have worked as vocal advocates of media diversity and opportunities for minority broadcasters to ensure that our public discourse includes a wide variety of points of view. We share the concerns expressed by the Chairmen of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees with your rollout strategy and its potential effects on media diversity. On September 19th, they wrote, 'If the methodology used in the unaccredited markets is underreporting listenership in certain urban or Hispanic-oriented programming, thereby distorting the market, it will harm the important broadcast policy of diversity. '
As you know, the MRC's Voluntary Code of Conduct discourages ratings companies like ARBITRON from discontinuing use of an accredited ratings method until a replacement method is accredited. Commercializing the PPM before resolving the methodological problems identified by the MRC threatens the utility of this voluntary system. A voluntary code of conduct is worth only as much as the pledge of those to abide by it. We urge you to do so for the good of the market's and the public's faith in the data you produce."
Arbitron Says They Are Following The MRC Code Of Conduct
ARBITRON released the following statement in acknowledgement of the letter the company received from Senators BARAK OBAMA (D-IL) and RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL):
"ARBITRON is following and will continue to follow the requirements of the MEDIA RATING COUNCIL Voluntary Code of Conduct," said Chairman/Pres./CEO STEVE MORRIS. "The MRC’s mission, as the industry organization that audits and accredits ratings services, has always been expressly predicated upon a process that is voluntary rather than mandatory."
MORRIS continued, "We support the MRC accreditation process and will continue to pursue accreditation in all markets, but the radio industry should not wait any longer for electronic audience measurement. Broadcasters, agencies, and advertisers in radio’s top markets have long called for the adoption of a more precise and credible audience measurement tool. They have made it clear that the adoption of the PORTABLE PEOPLE METER service is critical if radio is to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging media marketplace."
(Editors Note: In the letter from the Senators, they refer to the MRC as THE MEDIA RESEARCH COUNCIL. It is, in fact, the MEDIA RATING COUNCIL.)
Download a pdf of the letter by clicking here.