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Radio Broadcasters Demand PPM Changes

November 15 2007

Some of the USA's largest broadcasters have petitioned Arbitron to demand that the firm takes 'immediate action' to resolve sampling issues experienced with its Portable People Meter ratings.

In a letter, Clear Channel, Cox Radio, Cumulus and Radio One have all told Arbitron that PPM's data is not 'accurate or reliable' for all demographics - specifically its in-tab sample targets for the 18-34 age bracket and all ethnicities in Houston and Philadelphia, where PPM ratings have gone live.

Last week, Cox Radio's CEO Bob Neil said he believed that the poor sampling in Houston and Philadelphia had shaken the users' confidence in the data (www.mrweb.com/drno/news7551.htm ).

'The situation is clear: To secure a legitimate representation of listener activity, the number of people participating in the PPM survey must be increased,' the letter insists. Arbitron has tried to meet sample size targets by recruiting more active participants, but the broadcasters say the firm has failed to do so.

A major concern to the broadcasters is that Arbitron is proposing to lower the number of participants required for a sample size to be considered statistically valid. They complain that 'this proposal could result in some stations doing business based on the activity of as few as a single listener.' The letter states that Arbitron's own researchers have confirmed that such sample size 'has a greater range of error than the size of the estimate.'

To counter this, the broadcasters are suggesting eliminating the aged 6-11 sample, which has limited relevance to advertisers, and reallocating the meters to new recruits in the higher age groups, including Hispanics and African-Americans.

Earlier this week, Arbitron defended itself against criticism by the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) which followed the release of PPM data for New York City stations, showing numbers for Urban and Hispanic stations significantly lower in the PPM ratings than with the diary system (www.mrweb.com/drno/news7569.htm ).

The four broadcasters are demanding that an action plan to correct these issues is put in place within 30 days and have insisted Arbitron guarantee in-tab sample in the 18-54 age range, regardless of age and ethnic groups.

The company is online at www.arbitron.com.

All articles 2006-22 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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