Menendez, Salazar Want FCC Probe Of PPM
December 10, 2008 at 10:22 AM (PT)
Senators ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ) and KEN SALAZAR (D-CO) have issued a letter to FCC Chairman KEVIN MARTIN urging him to launch a formal inquiry into ARBITRON's Portable People Meter and the impact of the system on minority radio stations.
"Noting that ARBITRON is the primary provider of this ratings service that functions as currency for the entire broadcast industry, we are troubled by the ongoing commercialization of PPM despite being denied accreditation by the MEDIA RATINGS COUNCIL in both PHILADELPHIA and NEW YORK," wrote the Senators. "Minority themed radio stations are providers of important news and critical information about issues that are vital to the people in our communities. Stations that broadcast into minority communities provide a window into their languages, views, and values that might otherwise be ignored. When we talk about these outlets, we’re not just talking about broadcasters, we’re talking about advocates—advocates our communities depend on. Unfortunately, the PPM rollout is putting the viability of many minority radio broadcasters at risk."
A statement from ARBITRON's THOM MOCARSKY responds, "ARBITRON does not believe that the FCC has jurisdiction over the Company or its operations and assets and consequently lacks the authority to commence a Section 403 investigation.
"In SEPTEMBER, we filed comments with the Federal Communication Commission opposing a petition to the FCC that asks for an investigation into the ARBITRON Portable People Meter radio ratings service. Arbitron cited extensive precedent in which both Congress and the Commission have previously recognized that the FCC lacks authority to regulate audience ratings. Both Congress and the Commission have expressly stated that the reliability and methodologies of audience ratings services are best left to private industry groups such as the MEDIA RATING COUNCIL, INC., or MRC."
MARTIN has seemed to be cool to the idea of an FCC probe into the PPM, telling a DECEMBER 3 press conference that he has met with representatives from both sides of the issus but has not decided on whether to launch an investigation.