Clear Channel Radio – America’s biggest radio group with around 1,200 stations – has ended a four-month stand-off with Arbitron, the ratings measurement firm that provides the figures used as the basis for most radio ad rates.

The research group will provide Clear Channel (a unit of Clear Channel Communications) with ratings until 2004 and offer greater flexibility in the way markets are defined. Terms were not disclosed.

Back in April, Clear Channel declared it would not commission Arbitron’s research in 130 markets. The radio group wanted to extend the measurement system for some of its largest markets to include various smaller stations in peripheral regions, increasing the value of national and regional ad packages.

Although Arbitron will continue supplying ratings under the present specifications for metropolitan markets, from 2002 radio companies will be allowed greater scope to define their markets by (for example) consumer type, retailer, county or region, potentially increasing the revenue opportunities for outlying stations.

“We’ve always wanted to do something like this, and Clear Channel brought us a welcome impetus to allow us to pursue it,” insisted Arbitron’s Thom Mocarsky.

It was thought unlikely that the two companies would remain at odds for long – Clear Channel is the research firm’s biggest client, accounting for 22% of its revenue, while the radio group needs Arbitron’s ratings to negotiate deals with advertisers.

News source: Wall Street Journal