NEWS18 February 2010

SBS not cowed by PPM encoding order

Legal North America

US— Radio station owner Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) appears uncowed by a court order earlier this week forcing it to resume encoding its broadcasts for measurement by Arbitron’s portable people meter-based (PPM) ratings system.

In a statement issued late yesterday, the media group said the court’s ruling in favour of Arbitron was “based on a concern that other minority radio broadcasters would follow suit and turn-off their encoders”, thus preventing Arbitron’s technology from detecting their broadcast signals.

SBS, which describes itself as “one of the many outspoken critics” of Arbitron’s new methodology, said it looked forward to presenting the court with a full defence that would address its issues with the PPM system, chiefly the alleged undercounting of audiences for Hispanic and urban stations.

The dispute between Arbitron and SBS started last year when SBS reportedly refused to pay a licence to Arbitron, sighting dissatisfaction with the PPM service. In response, Arbitron stopped providing the broadcaster with PPM ratings in December and SBS retaliated by stopping the encoding of its broadcasts in early February.

“We contend that Arbitron has not lived up to their contractual obligation to deliver reliable and accurate ratings,” SBS said in a statement. “After Arbitron refused our repeated demands to rectify the situation, we concluded that Arbitron repudiated the parties’ agreements. If they were not going to provide us with reliable information, we saw no need to encode.”

Addressing this week’s court ruling, SBS chief revenue officer Frank Flores (pictured) said: “We will abide by the judge’s order to encode while we await our day in court to dispute Arbitron’s claims and prove that we are truly the ones being harmed. The fact that the Media Rating Council, the PPM Coalition and Congress are continuing to meet with Arbitron to try to correct the flaws of PPM undermines Arbitron’s contention that its PPM methodology is sound.”