Arbitron Could Face Court Hearing

07 October 2008

NEW YORK: The Portable People Meter radio ratings system could be set for a court hearing after New York's attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, threatened to sue system-owner Arbitron over the impact it could have on smaller radio stations' ad revenues.

Cuomo's office contacted Arbitron by letter last week, and gave the company until today (Tuesday) to show why legal proceedings should not begin.

Alphonso David, deputy bureau chief of New York's Civil Rights Bureau, wrote to Arbitron: "The PPM methodology Arbitron intends to use beginning on October 8 in New York has not been accredited by the Media Rating Council, the primary accrediting agency for ratings services in the United States, and appears to contain design flaws that will disproportionately impact minority communities, broadcasters, and businesses."

As well as under-representing young Hispanic and African–American listeners, PPMs could inaccurately account for those households that only use cellphones, which also often include younger and minority demographics, David warned.

Arbitron said it was "disappointed" by the attorney general's response, and argued that PPMs are favored by "a majority of the radio industry".

It added: "We intend to vigorously defend the company and its interests. We also fear that the radio industry will suffer continued harm and be placed at a competitive disadvantage if PPM is delayed further."

Currently in use in Philadelphia and Houston, PPM is due to launch in eight new areas, including New York City, Long Island and New Jersey, in October, and to be in use in some fifty districts by 2010.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff