|July 14, 2009
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE, FL – Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum today filed a lawsuit against Arbitron, Inc., seeking to block the release of flawed radio station ratings. The lawsuit states that Arbitron’s sampling methodology produces unreliable ratings that significantly undercount minority listeners and has thus failed to achieve accreditation in most markets.
In conducting its radio station rating services, Arbitron solicits individuals intended to be representative of the demographics, including age, race and ethnicity, of the market being measured. Those individuals agree to have their radio usage monitored through Portable People Meters (PPMs), which record encoded transmissions in radio frequencies detected in the device’s vicinity. Arbitron then converts the data into ratings of the radio stations in that market.
Advertisers rely heavily on Arbitron’s ratings, the sole source of audience measurement data, to decide where to place their advertisement buys. In turn, radio stations depend on advertising sales as their primary revenue source, making the reliability of Arbitron’s ratings crucial to each station’s existence. The lawsuit states Arbitron’s PPM service produces unreliable ratings because it fails to recruit minorities as panelists and ultimately fails to use sufficient data from minorities to calculate ratings.
Arbitron plans to release ratings of Miami area radio stations this month, despite federal scrutiny and the lack of accreditation for reliability. The Attorney General’s lawsuit states that releasing these ratings will negatively affect stations that air programming targeted to minorities because these stations will not be able to sufficiently compete for advertising revenue. The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks to prohibit the release of any ratings based on the unaccredited PPM service.
Arbitron’s PPM service is currently facing investigations by the FCC and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Arbitron has recently resolved lawsuits brought by the Attorneys General of New York and New Jersey concerning its implementation of the PPM service in those markets.
A copy of the complaint may be obtained online at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-7TXPFM/$file/ArbitronComplaint.pdf