NYC Council to FCC: Probe Arbitron

NEW YORK As expected, the New York City Council voted unanimously yesterday to call on the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the Arbitron portable people meter’s potential effects on the diversity of radio.

The Spanish Radio Association — formed by Hispanic radio groups Univision Radio, Spanish Broadcasting System, Entravision Communications and Border Media Partners — said the measure “should serve as a wake-up call for local governments and minority communities around the nation.”

In response to the NYC Council measure, the SRA issued the following statement:

“Arbitron’s flawed PPM ratings methodology will severely harm media diversity and ultimately limit the variety of voices and viewpoints on the country’s radio airwaves. It is a real threat not only to minority communities, but it could also have a devastating impact on local economies and needs to be taken seriously. The PPM ratings methodology should not be rolled out until all concerns are effectively addressed.

“Several members of the Spanish Radio Association have a long-standing presence in New York City, working tirelessly as a vibrant extension of the minority communities they serve, and as a strong part of the economic fabric of the communities they serve by creating jobs, paying taxes and supporting small and minority-owned businesses that rely on our airwaves to reach the community. Urban and ethnic stations not only provide vital news and information, they also provide a lifeline for their communities by helping to organize, promote and service a wide range of local civic campaigns and programs. The importance of Spanish-language and urban radio stations in New York and around the nation is immeasurable, and Arbitron’s unaccredited methodology produces unreliable and inaccurate measurement data that will destroy years of progress diversifying radio. Unfortunately, Arbitron is a monopoly, and even though the SRA has invested time and effort to help Arbitron develop a system that will provide reliable rating data, their lack of understanding of minority communities combined with their lack of commitment to these communities has resulted in our recommendations being ignored.

“We commend the New York City Council for working to protect and ensure ethnically and racially diverse radio programming as it continues to thrive in a city of more than 4.6 million minorities.”

Arbitron released the following statement in response to the resolution passed by the New York City Council:

“We are disappointed by the council’s failure to recognize: that broadcasters, agencies and advertisers in New York and other major markets have made it clear that PPM is critical if radio is to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging media marketplace; the quality of the PPM samples in terms of African-American, Hispanic and Spanish-dominant representation; the continuing dialogue Arbitron maintains with urban and Hispanic broadcasters and agencies; and the outreach we are making to highlight the value of African-American and Hispanic consumers in the PPM world.

“While Arbitron does not believe that the FCC has jurisdiction over our company, we are willing to continue our voluntary meetings with the FCC and other government officials. Arbitron’s role as an independent research company is to provide stations and advertisers with information that is based on the actual behavior of radio audiences. That is what PPM delivers today.”