Arbitron Wins Restraining Order

Arbitron announced late Thursday (Feb. 11) that the Supreme Court of the State of New York for the County of New York issued a temporary restraining order requiring Spanish Broadcasting System to resume encoding its broadcasting signals for Arbitron’s portable people meter ratings service in five cities. Spanish Broadcasting System, one of the more vocal critics of the PPM service, yanked the encoders from its 9 U.S. stations on Feb. 4, 2010.

Had Arbitron not received the TRO, SBS’ action could have crippled the PPM in five of the nation’s largest Hispanic markets including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco.  

“SBS remains under contract with Arbitron for both the PPM service and the encoding of its signal,” Timothy Smith, chief legal officer for Arbitron. “We expect SBS to honor the terms of both agreements.”

The Court will convene a hearing on Tuesday (Feb. 16) to determine whether to continue to compel SBS to encode its signals.

Arbitron just can’t seem to come to terms with Spanish broadcasters. The ratings firm has yet to resolve its ongoing conflict with Univision Communications, which last summer ceased subscribing to Arbitron’s PPM service in all PPM markets except Houston. The group also refused to encode its stations in the newer PPM markets including Miami, San Diego, Phoenix, Austin and Las Vegas.

SBS’ stations account for about 11.5 percent of the listening share in Miami, 4.8 percent each in New York and Los Angeles, 2.8 percent in Chicago and 3.2 percent in San Francisco. In Miami, if both SBS and Univision were not encoding, about 30 percent of the listening audience would be missing from the ratings.

Despite optimistic comments made earlier this year that the ratings firm was making progress with minority broadcasters, the opposite seems to be true. There is still no news of the “workable plan” with the PPM Coalition that Arbitron agreed to provide during a Congressional hearing held in early December. Arbitron met with the PPM Coalition in January.