NEWS12 January 2010

Skarzynski quits Arbitron for giving false information to Congress

North America People

US— Arbitron president and CEO Michael Skarzynski has resigned from his position at the radio ratings firm with immediate effect for giving false information at a hearing of the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Skarzynski (pictured) told the hearing that he had “personally participated” in a home visit to Arbitron panel members in November last year but in in a conference call this afternoon chief financial officer Sean Creamer said that although Arbitron staff had visited panellists, Skarzynski had not.

The House Committee hearing was held in December to discuss claims made by minority broadcasters that the introduction of Arbitron’s portable people meter (PPM) technology was harming their businesses by producing lower ratings for their stations – thus costing them advertising revenue.

The hearing was led by Congressman Edolphus Towns, who said in a statement: “As chairman, I am committed to protecting the integrity of the committee’s proceedings, and will review this matter to determine whether the committee was intentionally misled and whether further action is warranted.”

William Kerr, a member of the Arbitron board of directors, will take over as CEO following Skarzynski’s departure. Kerr has sat on the board since May 2007. He is also a director at publishing house and TV station Meridith Corporation, where he was chairman and CEO from 1996 to 2007.

Skarzynski joined Arbitron exactly a year ago, having previously been CEO of software firm Iptivia. He replaced Steve Morris after 16 years in the role.

Arbitron will pay Skarzynski $750,000 in cash minus taxes as part of a settlement agreement following his resignation. The company has also said it will not seek repayment of the $125,000 Skarzynski was given in relocation costs following his appointment, and has agreed to pay up to a maximum of $100,000 to cover any potential legal fees.

Meanwhile, Arbitron announced yesterday that the Media Rating Council (MRC) had accredited its monthly PPM radio ratings data in the Minneapolis-St Paul market, but denied accreditation for the system in the Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St Louis, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa-St Petersburg and Washington DC markets.

Arbitron said the MRC also “closed without action audits” in the San Francisco and San Jose markets, leaving them unaccredited. Arbitron said that it will work with the MRC to have the markets re-audited during the course of 2010.