McCollum wants to halt Arbitron's ratings

Keith Loria Jul. 15, 2009, 12:49pm


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Radio stations may not be getting an accurate reading of their ratings, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Named in the suit was Arbitron, Inc., responsible for the sole source of audience measurement data. McCollum said the company's techniques are flawed because sampling methodology produces, failing to achieve accreditation in most markets.

"In its rush to deploy a lucrative new product, Arbitron has apparently determined that accurately measuring minority radio audiences is too expensive," McCollum said.

"The flaws in Arbitron's PPM service, however, are not technological. No matter how sophisticated the technology, the audience estimates it produces will be misleading if Arbitron does not recruit, train and retain a sample panel that is reflective of the diversity in a particular radio market and if those in the sample panel do not faithfully and properly use their PPM devices."

Since advertisers rely on Arbitron's ratings to decide where to place their advertisement buys, their service is crucial for a radio station's survival, McCollum said.

The suit alleges that because it fails to recruit minorities as panelists, it ultimately fails to use sufficient data from minorities to calculate ratings, which makes the system flawed.

The attorney general's lawsuit seeks to prohibit the release of any ratings based on the unaccredited service.

Similar lawsuits were recently resolved in the New York and New Jersey markets. Arbitron's service is also currently facing investigations by the FCC and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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