Judge Rules SBS Must Keep Encoding During PPM Dispute; SBS Complies But Slams Arbitron
February 17, 2010 at 11:40 AM (PT)
SPANISH BROADCASTING SYSTEM stations must continue to encode for ARBITRON's PPM while a court continues to deliberate over the dispute between SBS and the ratings company.
NEW YORK State Supreme Court judge SHIRLEY KORNREICH ordered SBS to continue decoding TUESDAY and ordered ARBITRON to post a bond to cover potential damages to SBS, and told the parties to look into mediation to settle the dispute; the company resumed decoding last week after ARBITRON filed a breach of contract suit and obtained a temporary restraining order pending YESTERDAY's hearing.
Arbitron continues to treat its customers with disdain. We will abide by the judgeâ€™s order to encode while we await our day in court to dispute Arbitronâ€™s claims and prove that we are truly the ones being harmed.
SBS Lashes Out At Arbitron
SPANISH BROADCASTING SYSTEM TODAY (2/17) issued a statement responding to the PPM encoder issue:
SBS has been actively dealing with ARBITRON, the sole provider of ratings information, since the introduction of PPM. As a member of both the PPM Coalition and the SPANISH RADIO ASSOCIATION (SRA), SBS has been one of the many outspoken critics of this new methodology. It has been and continues to be our contention that the PPM service unfairly discounts the listening audiences of both Urban and Hispanic communities. We have been consistent in our fight and have repeatedly asked that ARBITRON gain accreditation from the MRC before implementing this methodology currency in any market. These pleas have been ignored by ARBITRON, who has instead decided to continue its rollout despite being accredited in only two markets (they are currently in 33 markets).
We contend that ARBITRON has not lived up to their contractual obligation to deliver reliable and accurate ratings. After ARBITRON refused our repeated demands to rectify the situation, we concluded that Arbitron repudiated the parties' agreements. If they were not going to provide us with reliable information, we saw no need to encode.
The court’s ruling on the temporary restraining order was measured based on a concern that other minority radio broadcasters would follow suit and turn-off their encoders. This, of course, bespeaks to the bigger problem -- minority broadcasters’ fundamental dissatisfaction with ARBITRON’s PPM methodology. The court increased the bond amount to $250,000 to cover the losses that SBS may sustain during the interim period. While disappointed by the ruling, SBS looks forward to presenting a full defense and having the court adjudicate the full merits of the case.
"ARBITRON continues to treat its customers with disdain. We will abide by the judge’s order to encode while we await our day in court to dispute ARBITRON’s claims and prove that we are truly the ones being harmed," said Chief Revenue Officer FRANK FLORES. "The fact the MRC, PPMC and Congress are continuing to meet with ARBITRON to try to correct the flaws of PPM, undermines Arbitron’s contention that its PPM methodology is sound."
PPM Coalition 'Disappointed'
THE PPM COALITION, of which SBS is a member, weighed in, saying "The PPM COALITION is disappointed that the NEW YORK State Court continued the injunction requiring SPANISH BROADCASTING SYSTEM to encode its programming for ARBITRON's inaccurate ratings system. However, the Court was concerned only with the contractual relationship between the parties and could not consider the more significant issue of the decimation of diversity on the nation's airwaves. That is why the Coalition has been looking to Congress, the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, and the state attorneys general to provide relief from this serious problem."
ARBITRON was contacted for comment, but has yet to respond.