House Oversight Committee Calls Hearing on Radio Ratings

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Washington - Nov 24, 2009 - On Dec. 2, 2009, the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing to discuss the ratings decline of minority-owned radio stations. The committee will examine whether the PPM technology and methodology accurately measure radio audiences and whether the PPM has a disproportionately negative effect on radio stations owned by minorities or targeted toward minority listeners.

According to the Committee announcement, "The hearing will examine whether the PPM technology and methodology accurately measure radio audiences and look into the disproportionate impact PPM has had on radio stations owned by minorities or targeted toward minority listeners. Moreover, the Committee will address such factors as the effect of PPM as currency in a radio market; the importance of diversity in broadcast media; the impact of PPM on minority broadcasters and communities; and issues affecting sample quality in PPM technology."

Since implementing this technology, minority broadcasters have expressed concerns with undercounting and underrepresentation of African American and Hispanic listeners. Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns opened an investigation in June 2009 into Arbitron's use of the PPM amid allegations that methodological flaws with the device are resulting in the underrepresentation of radio listening preferences of minorities and certain age groups.

Arbitron released a statement saying that it "welcomes this opportunity to discuss the importance of electronic measurement, the effectiveness of the Portable People Meter service, the value of the data it produces, and our responsible approach to the deployment of the service."

The PPM Coalition, which represents the interests of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, Border Media Partners, Entravision Communications, ICBC Broadcast Holdings, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, SBS Radio, the Spanish Radio Association, and Univision Radio, also issued a statement applauding the committee chairman for calling the hearing. The Coalition calls the PPM service flawed, and charges that Arbitron has abused its "monopoly power in the top radio markets to force a ratings system on the radio marketplace despite persistent problems with sampling and recruitment techniques." The Coalition believes the radio ratings for broadcasters who serve minority communities have been disproportionately diminished.

The Coalition further charges that if the Arbitron PPM is allowed to be used without obtaining acceptance from the Media Ratings Council, radio stations that serve minority listeners will be adversely affected.

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