More Broadcasters Attack Arbitron’s PPM

Minority broadcasters aren’t the only critics of Arbitron’s portable people meter service. Now other broadcasters are speaking out about the service’s low sample sizes.

In an open letter dated Aug. 10 to Arbitron CEO Michael Skarzynski, Michael Luckoff, president and general manager of Citadel’s News/Talk KGO-AM and KSFO-AM, the No. 1- and No. 6-rated stations under the PPM in San Francisco, wrote that because of low samples, Arbitron’s PPM service has become “next to worthless if not actually destructive to  
many radio broadcasters.”

Luckoff accused Arbitron of reneging on its promise to build PPM samples that were as large as the diary samples in each market.

“Not only was the promise never kept, but in fact only a fraction of that guaranteed number were ever placed. In the San Francisco metro for instance, approximately 7,200 diaries were distributed in every quarter. Now, there are but 2,000 meters, 800 households surveyed for  
what Arbitron hopes to be a two-year period,” Luckoff wrote.

Because of the low sample size, Luckoff concluded that radio is unable to effectively sell and program. “When the scant numbers of meter response information is ‘sliced and diced’ the available numbers, trends etc. are of absolutely no value in making any such decision with any degree of accuracy or reliability.”

Luckoff’s final point: Broadcasters are paying 50 percent more for less usable data.

Arbitron was not immediately available for comment.

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