Obama Intervenes in New York PPP Protest

02 October 2008

NEW YORK: Vote-seeking presidential candidates are prone to support populist causes before, rather than after, their election – and the senator from Illinois (pictured) is no exception.

Barack Obama has intervened in the increasingly acrid dispute between the Spanish Radio Association (an alliance of Hispanic-language broadcasters) and audience measurement specialist Arbitron, whose portable people meter is yet again a source of controversy.  

The SRA fears that "Arbitron's flawed PPM ratings methodology will severely harm media diversity and ultimately limit the variety of voices and viewpoints on the country's radio airwaves."

Not so, responds Arbitron, insisting that the PPM's representation of minority listening is accurate; more so than that of its former paper diary system.

New York City Council has already intervened in the dispute, calling last week on the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the PPM's potential effect on the ethnic diversity of radio.

Since when, Obama, along with Democrat colleague Senator Richard Durbin (also of Illinois), has written to Arbitron ceo Stephen Morris to express their concerns about the under-representation of ethnic minorities.

The letter reads: "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 effect on media diversity."

Currently investigating the PPM system is New York's attorney general Andrew Cuomo. He is on record as noting that "a significant and improper decline in ratings under PPM" could cause "irreversible consequences" for minority broadcasters.

Cuomo is also aware that if the PPM reflects "a significant and proper decline" in listening numbers by exposing previous over-counting, this would have exactly the same deleterious effect.

Data sourced from mrweb.com; additional content by WARC staff