Arbitron to pitch PPM change on Capitol Hill


Speaking at a Credit Suisse investor conference on Monday, Arbitron CEO Bill Kerr said he will be meeting later this week with House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) to discuss Arbitron’s proposal to gradually shift all Portable People Meter (PPM) markets to address-based panel recruitment. Kerr cautioned, though, that changing the methodology may not produce any change in the ratings.

“We have been in very active dialog with both the MRC [Media Rating Council] and with the members of the [PPM] Coalition. I am hopeful that we have a game plan and a timetable which seems to make sense for all parties that will enhance our ability to achieve the accreditation that we’re looking for with our markets – and also can be done in a way that is responsible for us in terms of being a commercial enterprise concerned about our shareholders. And one that will be helpful for radio in aggregate, not simply for a subset of players in the field,” Kerr told the investor gathering in Florida.

Noting that the discussions are ongoing with the PPM Coalition – whose member radio groups insist that PPM as currently operated undercounts their largely minority audiences – Congress and the MRC, Kerr declined to provide any more specifics about the proposal from Arbitron beyond what was disclosed in the SEC filing earlier this month.

“I’m not sure whether it will, in fact, change the ratings. I think it will, in fact, help us reach more effectively, particularly the 18-34-year-old group. That is one of the groups that is hardest to reach and I think that is where the cell phone activity will be most beneficial,” Kerr said. He was referring to ongoing efforts by Arbitron to include more cell phone-only households, those which no longer use a landline phone, in its samples, both for PPM and diary markets. Address-based recruitment is expected to bring in more cell phone-only households.