House Member Slams Arbitron’s PPM

Just in time for this week’s annual fall National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters confab in Washington, D.C., Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns (D-N.Y.) slammed Arbitron’s portable people meter based on documents subpoenaed from the Media Rating Council.

After reading the MRC audit, Towns concluded that the MRC found “persistent problems” with Arbitron’s minority samples. In New York, Towns said that although African Americans and Hispanics make up 25 and 27 percent of the City’s population, they ownly comprise 17.7 and 21.5 percent of Arbitron’s sample.

Towns subpoenaed the MRC audit documents as part of The Commmittee on Oversight and Reform’s investigation, opened in June. It’s one of several initiatives undertaken at the request of minority broadcasters. Since Arbitron began rolling out the PPM, minority broadcasters, faced with declining ratings, claimed Arbitron’s PPM service undercounts minorities.

“These and other problems translate into a ratings disaster for minority targeted radio stations. Until these items are corrected by Arbitron, the problem will only get worse,” said chairman Towns.

Arbitron has rolled out the PPM service in 20 markets, but only two, Houston and Riverside/SanBernardino, Calif. have received MRC accreditation.

A PPM panel is on the NABOB’s Friday morning agenda.

In a statement, Arbitron asserted that the Committee had reached “erroneous conclusions, but did not offer any contrary figures. “We look forward to a fact-based dialogue as we clarify some of the erroneous conclusions reached in this current analysis, and will continue to work to resolve these issues,” the company said.