PPM Coalition applauds FCC inquiry


It was kind of a given. The PPM Coalition requested that the FCC investigate Arbitron’s PPM. Now that the Notice of Inquiry (NOI) has been announced, the Coalition calls it “perhaps the best way to shine further light on the impact of PPM throughout the United States.”

The PPM Coalition – consisting of National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the Spanish Radio Association, the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, and five radio group owners: Border Media, Entravision, Univision, SBS and Inner City – filed an emergency petition last September [LINK] calling for the FCC to investigate PPM. After months of debating internally whether the Commission has any jurisdiction, the three current Commissioners approved the NOI, which, among other things, asks whether the FCC does have jurisdiction.

The PPM Coalition issued this statement applauding the FCC action:

“The PPM Coalition is very pleased that the FCC has decided to launch a Notice of Inquiry into the accuracy and impact of Arbitron’s Portable People Meter service (“PPM”).  The commercialization of PPM has resulted in inaccurate and volatile ratings data due to fundamental flaws in the sampling methodology underlying the use of the electronic measurement device. Arbitron’s failure to adequately address these important flaws in its sampling efforts has resulted in the under counting of minority audiences in the largest markets in the United States. Investigations by the Attorneys General in New York, New Jersey and Maryland, resulted in settlement agreements that required corrective action by Arbitron to address PPM methodology flaws.

The Notice of Inquiry provides the first real opportunity to address these issues at a national level.  Arbitron has now released PPM in fifteen markets across the U.S. and has received MRC accreditation in just two of the fifteen. That fact alone should be cause for concern within the industry and at the FCC.

Minority-owned broadcasters have born the brunt of the economic damage from the impact of PPM, but reliable audience ratings are of vital importance to the entire radio industry.  Developing a robust record for the Commission is essential.  The inquiry is perhaps the best way to shine further light on the impact of PPM throughout the United States.” 

RBR/TVBR observation: No one has yet identified to us the statute under which the Federal Communications Commission can order Arbitron, Nielsen, Eastlan or any other media ratings company to do anything. Unless such authority exists (and it doesn’t), all the FCC’s NOI amounts to is navel gazing and a waste of the Commission’s resources.