Congress Keeps Up Pressure on Arbitron

Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns (D-N.Y.) and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is keeping the pressure on Arbitron to address problems with its portable people meter rating system. The chairman, who held hearings Dec. 2 on the PPM’s effect on minority broadcasters, once again threatened to introduce legislation unless Arbitron, the Media Rating Council and the members of the PPM Coalition come up with a workable plan in 30 days.

“It took decades of hard-fought battles to finally create diversity on the airwaves. I will not let this diversity perish overnight because of inaccurate ratings,” Towns wrote in a letter dated Dec. 10.

Arbitron took a beating during the hearing from several of its minority broadcast clients including PPM Coalition members Univision Communications, Spanish Broadcasting System and Inner City Broadcasting. The MRC was also critical of Arbitron, which has been unable to achieve accreditation in 31 of 33 PPM markets.

“We want accreditation before Arbitron discontinues its diary service. The MRC voluntary code calls for that,” said Ceril Shagrin, executive vp, corporate research for Univision, which no longer subscribes to Arbitron. “We’re ready to work with Arbitron. The MRC is ready. It will be up to Arbitron.”

Early January is just around the corner.

Arbitron did not have any immediate comment.