NEW YORK: Arbitron's rollout of its controversial electronic portable people meter system is on hold following an outcry over recent figures recorded for some stations that target younger listeners and minorities.

Arbitron says it has every confidence in its PPM audience measurement device, which has been dogged by an unenthusiastic reception from the US radio industry.

Nonetheless, the company has taken the decision to delay "further commercialization" in nine markets while it addresses issues raised by the Media Rating Council.

Arbitron chairman/ceo Steve Morris says the firm will work to "improve the performance of our PPM samples" and delay rollout in areas of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose and Dallas by up to nine months.

Some radio station managers have claimed the system is flawed, showing such severe and unexplained audience drops that they could be put out of business.

A number of media buyers, however, believe the radio companies are simply dragging their feet about adopting a system that is significantly more expensive than the paper diaries its replaces and records lower (but possibly more accurate) ratings.

Arbitron says its postponement of the rollout will affect earnings for 2008 as a result of additional costs for extending paper diaries in the affected markets and the loss of anticipated revenues.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff