Cox Radio CEO Bob Neil, who has been outspoken in recent months about PPM’s flaws, told RBR what he thinks Arbitron should do, from a broadcaster standpoint: "I think the next steps are pretty clear. Their customers, broadcasters and agencies, see little or no value in 6-11 year olds in the sample. They were there for TV purposes. Eliminating them allows the sample size to grow 12 plus, which should help at least get bigger numbers in the challenged age cells. The sampling issues must be dealt with, and I think an 85 index against target is a good floor. That’s a "B" in High School and we’re paying for an "A".
If we don’t get there, there should be a rebate to broadcasters and agencies that is significant enough to hurt, so it forces Arbitron to keep an unrelenting focus on the sample. Before another market rolls out, Philly and any other proposed PPM markets must get MRC accredited. Because of this snafu, customers are going to demand to know they are getting a quality product, and the MRC gives us confidence that the data is credible. No more waiting on accreditation. I don’t think any of this is unreasonable, nor should it cost customers any more than the huge increases we’re paying. It’s going to be up to Arbitron to set a new direction here by telling their shareholders and Board that this is going to go slower, and frankly, that their profits on PPM won’t be what they thought they were going to be. If they shut down their spin machine, and fix these problems, the industry will move into the Electronic Measurement age smoothly and with confidence. If not, Arbitron may be the Hooper and Pulse of the new millennium."