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Spanish Broadcasting Appeals to FCC in Arbitron Case

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The fight between Spanish Broadcasting System and Arbitron turned ugly Friday (Feb. 12). After being ordered by a court to resume encoding its signals for Arbitron's portable people meter service, SBS, backed by the other members of the PPM Coalition, appealed to the Federal Communications Commission.

It's not the first time the PPM Coalition has attempted to involve the FCC in its fight with Arbitron over how it counts minorities in the PPM ratings service. But so far, the FCC has not taken any action against Arbitron.

The latest battle between Arbitron and a minority broadcaster was set into motion Feb. 4 when SBS pulled the PPM encoders from nine stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami. On Feb. 11, the Supreme Court of the State of New York for the County of New York issued a temporary retraining order requiring SBS to resume encoding. The Court will convene Tuesday to determine whether to continue to compel SBS to encode.

In statement, SBS was optimistic that the Court on Tuesday would rule in its favor. "Arbitron's decision to obtain the requested relief by waiting until the end of the day to file ex parte papers, which SBS did not have the opportunity to review prior to the hearing is telling. We believe that a full airing of the evidence will lead to a drastically different result."

SBS has not received Arbitron PPM ratings since December 2009. In its letter to the FCC, SBS wrote that Arbitron had not fulfilled its contract. "SBS further requested that Arbitron issue a credit in accordance with the terms of the parties' contracts. Without any explanation, Arbitron rejected SBS' contractual demand, prompting SBS to suspend its license payments," the PPM Coalition wrote in the letter to FCC.

The latest move by the PPM Coalition does not bode well for the "workable plan" Arbitron and the PPM Coalition agreed to provide during a Congressional hearing held in December.

Arbitron met with the PPM Coalition in January and expressed optimism that it was making progress. Now it looks as though both parties will have to go back to the drawing board.

Arbitron was not immediately available for comment.

Related: Arbitron Wins Restraining Order