NEWS2 June 2010

SBS and Arbitron reach agreement to dismiss PPM legal dispute

Legal North America

US— Arbitron and radio broadcaster Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) have reached an agreement to dismiss court proceedings stemming from a dispute between the two companies over Arbitron’s portable people meter-based (PPM) radio audience measurement.

In a stipulation of dismissal filed yesterday, the two firms have agreed to discontinue the case without prejudice and with each party paying their own costs and attorneys’ fees.

The legal argument started last year when SBS refused to pay a licence fee to Arbitron after becoming dissatisfied with the PPM service. SBS was one of a number of companies to accuse Arbitron of undercounting Hispanic and urban audiences, thus harming station ratings and advertising revenue.

In response to SBS’s fee boycott, Arbitron stopped providing the broadcaster with PPM ratings and SBS retaliated in turn by stripping Arbitron’s encoding from its broadcasts – encoding the PPM uses to recognise and record broadcast exposure.

By the end of April, however, Arbitron had settled its long running dispute with minority-owned radio broadcasters, pledging a number of improvements to the PPM service to answer their concerns regarding minority representation. Shortly after this announcement was made, SBS met with Arbitron and started encoding its broadcasts again so that they could be picked up by PPM devices.

UPDATE @2.13pm: Arbitron and SBS have released a joint statement giving more details on the settlement. Under the terms of the deal, SBS will resume encoding its content in all markets where PPM is in use, and SBS has extended its agreement with Arbitron for the use of PPM ratings in those markets.

SBS chief revenue officer Frank Flores said: “Both Arbitron and SBS are committed to working together to address SBS’ previously-voiced concerns about the impact of the PPM service on minority radio broadcasters. SBS is gratified that it has reached an amicable resolution with Arbitron.”

Arbitron president and CEO William Kerr added: “We believe that the radio industry is best served when Arbitron and broadcasters work collaboratively.”