Arbitron defends PPM; will cooperate with FCC


Noting that the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry (NOI) doesn’t yet propose to impose any regulations on the company, Arbitron says it welcomes the NOI and will take advantage of “the opportunity to comment and better educate all parties about our Portable People Meter service and its advantages over the diary-based system.” Arbitron said it is willing to cooperate in an NOI, but reserved its options should the Commission try to move to the type of “formal, adversarial investigation” that had been sought by the PPM Coalition.

Here’s the official Arbitron statement sent to RBR/TVBR after the NOI was issued:

“Arbitron welcomes the opportunity to better educate all parties about our Portable People Meter service and its advantages over the diary-based system. The FCC Notice of Inquiry will allow us to further explain why a passive, electronic audience measurement service is a valuable tool that can help the radio broadcast industry compete with the emerging digital media in the 21st century.

We appreciate that Chairman Copps has commended Arbitron for trying to improve our ratings methodology and for committing significant resources to that effort.  We also appreciate that Commissioner McDowell has acknowledged that Arbitron and a number of broadcasters have said that our new automated approach to ratings measurement offers significant improvements over the older, manual diary-reporting system.

It is important to note that FCC’s Notice of Inquiry regarding PPM is not the same as the formal investigation demanded by the so-called PPM Coalition.

The Notice of Inquiry is an open proceeding in which any and all parties may express their views on a wide variety of issues. This is very different from a closed, adversarial proceeding before an administrative law judge.

In the ex-parte notices that Arbitron has filed regarding our one-on-one meetings with the FCC, we have consistently expressed our willingness to participate in a Notice of Inquiry.

We have said that an open proceeding can foster dialogue, education and an exchange of ideas among parties holding differing viewpoints, while a closed investigation would likely lead to ‘freezing’ the parties into a litigation-like adversarial postures.  We also said that a closed investigation would divert valuable Arbitron resources away from our continuous improvement initiatives that are enhancing the quality of our PPM services.”