FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has fired off a letter to colleague and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin asking for an immediate probe into the effect of Arbitron’s new PPM technology on minority radio stations. He commended the inquiry Martin kicked off 9/4/08, but argues that it’s time to take firmer action. Adelstein argued that the alleged damage its doing to minority stations undermines the will of Congress to increase diversity of media ownership.
And since the FCC is charged with promoting diversity, which is the legal peg upon which the FCC can hang its investigation. He justified the link by noting that both station ratings and revenue results, which are inextricably tied to ratings, are part of landscape the FCC considers when dealing with the topic. He noted that the FCC’s prior action discouraging no Urban/no Hispanic dictates as a clear precedent demonstrating the FCC’s power to enter the fray on PPM.
RBR/TVBR observation: The fact that Arbitron uses broadcast spectrum for PPM technology would be another argument in favor of the FCC’s right to butt in. We understand the excruciating labor pains associated with the effort to make PPM an effective standard, and we understand the controversy. We also understand that radio must bring its accountability system into the 21st Century, and we remain unconvinced that the FCC, with no expertise in ratings matters, is the proper venue to sort all this out.