Updated: Arbitron’s Skarzynski Out as President, CEO

Arbitron shocker: Michael Skarzynski is out as president and chief executive officer of the radio ratings firm. The news comes almost one year to the day Skarzynski took over the top spot.

William Kerr, 68, a member of Arbitron’s board of directors since 2007 and the Chairman of Meredith Corp. was named president and CEO of Arbitron.

Skarzynski was forced to resign after he and the board determined he had “violated a company policy in a matter entirely unrelated to the financial performance of the company,” the release stated.

Arbitron was not specific about Skarzynski’s transgression, but Chairman Edolphus “Ed” Towns (D-NY), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said in a statement that Skarzynski may have provided “false testimony” during the Dec. 2 hearing on the PPM. “I am committed to protecting the integrity of the Committee’s proceedings and will review this matter to determine whether the Committee was intentionally misled and whether further action is warranted,” Towns said.

Kerr brings a deep media background to Arbitron. From 1996 to 2007, Kerr was president and CEO of Meredith. He has also been a member of the boards of directors of The Interpublic Group of Companies.

“Bill’s experience as a chief executive officer and Chairman of a large public media company coupled with his board memberships make him uniquely qualified to lead Arbitron. Additionally, Bill’s service as a member of Arbitron’s Board of Directors should provide a fast and effective transition into his new role,” said Philip Guarascio, chairman of the board, Arbitron Inc.

In a separate release, Arbitron announced its portable people meter ratings service was denied Media Rating Council accreditation in 18 markets. Only one, Minneapolis-St. Paul was granted accreditation.

Along with Houston and Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., Arbitron has MRC accreditation in only three of its 33 PPM markets.

MRC accreditation was denied in the nation’s largest markets including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Washington, D.C. The MRC did not act on two other markets, San Francisco and San Jose, which also remain unaccredited.

The lack of accreditation has been a major bone of contention for PPM’s minority broadcast critics, who claim the service fails to adequately measure minority listening.

Whether or not the lack of MRC accreditation played a part in Skarzynski’s exit is unclear.
Skarzynski’s one-year tenure was marked by PPM controversy, including probes by four Attorneys Generals, Congress, and the Federal Communications Commission. Skarzynski also presided over a reorganization at Arbitron, which included remaking the executive staff and cutting 10 percent of the workforce in March.