Senator unimpressed with Arbitron's PPM promises
US-- Senator Robert Menendez has told Arbitron it must to do more to improve its Portable People Meter (PPM) radio measurement system after failing to be impressed with the firm's promises to better the service.
Arbitron CEO Michael Skarzynski pledged a wave of improvements in cell-phone-only sampling, address-based sampling, in-tab compliance rates and response metrics in a letter to the senator in February, but Menendez has warned that “must not be the endgame”.
The senator is sympathetic to the concerns of ethnic minority broadcasters who claim that their audiences are underrepresented in samples for the new ratings system. Those concerns brought about legal action from the attorneys general of New York and New Jersey, which Arbitron eventually settled by committing to a list of quality assurance targets.
Similar quality standards were later agreed with the attorney general of Maryland and, in his letter to Menendez, Skarzynski pledged that all PPM markets would benefit from the “key methodological enhancements” arising from the settlements.
But Menendez was unimpressed with the promises made. He told Skarzynski: “While I appreciate the fact you are taking such productive steps as applying the terms of the settlements in New York, New Jersey and Maryland nationwide, this must not be the endgame.
“The terms of the settlement simply established a legal minimum that the PPM methodology must include. I do not believe that this is an acceptable standard of service.”
He said it was his “sincere hope” that Arbitron would continue to hold discussions with its minority stakeholders and “work tirelessly to attain accreditation for the PPM methodology in all markets”.
Menendez's reaction to Arbitron's promises echoed the feeling of The Spanish Radio Association and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, who said the improvements did not go far enough.
The senator is co-chair of the Senate's Democratic Hispanic Task Force and had previously called on the Federal Communications Commission to investigate Arbitron.
In making his letter public, Menendez said he was “disappointed” Skarzynski had chose to release their earlier correspondence to the press and was “responding likewise”.
In reply to the senator today Skarzynski said: “We wish to thank Senator Menendez for his continued interest in Arbitron, and as promised we welcome the opportunity to keep the senator apprised of the company's progress in our continuous improvement programmes.”
Author: James Verrinder