FCC Seeks Comments on PPM

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Washington - May 18, 2009 - In a notice of inquiry (NOI), the Federal Communications Commission seeks comment on issues relating to the commercial use of the Arbitron-developed Portable People Meter (PPM). The FCC notes that broadcasters, media organizations and special-interest groups have raised concerns about the use of the PPM and its potential effect on audience ratings of stations that air programming targeted to minority audiences, and consequently, on the financial viability of those stations. PPM opponents claim that the current PPM methodology undercounts and misrepresents the number and loyalty of minority radio listeners.

The groups assert that, because audience ratings affect advertising revenues, undercounting minority audiences could negatively affect the ability of these stations to compete for advertising revenues and to continue to offer local service to minority audiences. They express concern that such undercounting could particularly affect the ratings of local, urban-formatted radio stations that broadcast programming of interest to African-American and Hispanic audiences.

According to its proponents, the PPM methodology represents a technological improvement in measuring radio listening.

The FCC NOI investigates the effects of PPM methodology on broadcasting as well as whether the audience ratings data is sufficiently accurate and reliable to merit the Commission's own reliance on it in its rules, policies and procedures. The FCC seeks information on whether and how the PPM technological changes adversely affect diversity on the airwaves as well as the integrity and reliability of the Commission's processes that rely on Arbitron ratings data. If there is an adverse effect, the Commission seeks comment on further steps it can and should take to address these issues.

Comment will be due 30 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register. Reply comments will be due 60 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register. MB Docket No. 08-187

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