Broadcaster says FCC should quit using Arbitron


In trying to make the case that it may have some authority over Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM), the FCC has noted that it relies on Arbitron market definitions for determining compliance with its local ownership limits. Now one broadcaster is suggesting that the Commission should find another way to define local markets.

As the first party to file in response to the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry on whether it has authority to investigate PPM, and, if so, whether it should, Arso Radio Corporation says the Commission’s reliance on Arbitron metro definitions is “in some instances, misplaced and that there is a better and more reliable source of data to use, specifically the Office of Management & Budget’s ‘market’ definitions.”

Arso is the owner of eight radio stations in Puerto Rico. Unique among all Arbitron markets, the entire island of Puerto Rico is considered a single market, despite have three distinct main population centers and many other communities.

Arso questions whether it is appropriate for a government agency to rely on data from a private company where there is the possibility that the data is being manipulated for economic purposes and may conflict with data prepared by federal agencies. The broadcaster notes that in Puerto Rico Arbitron has willingly disregarded the OMB market definitions “to frame a ‘market’ for its own purposes and based on economic considerations.”

“There is absolutely noting wrong with Arbitron choosing, as part of its business model, to do this,” Arso said in its comments. But the company says it doesn’t make any sense for the FCC to rely on Arbitron market definitions instead of those created by the federal government.

Arbitron is not currently planning to deploy PPM in Puerto Rico, but Arso has latched onto the PPM NOI as a vehicle to again press its objection to the FCC using Arbitron market definitions. Comments in Media Bureau Docket 08-187 are due July 1st.