Cox Radio’s Bob Neil fires back again


The email he got yesterday from Arbitron CEO Steve Morris may not have been a surprise to Bob Neil – and it certainly hasn’t quieted his criticism of Arbitron’s PPM rollout.

“It’s more of the same spin. Nothing new. They ignore their customers at their own peril,” Neil said late yesterday in an email to RBR/TVBR.

“I could take this apart piece by piece, for example starting with the term ‘our benchmarks.’  Arbitron came up with the benchmarks, not their customers so those benchmarks are completely meaningless. Also meaningless is the term ‘continuous improvement.’ All this really says is ‘we try to get better’ with no timeline and no specifics about when,” Neil said of Morris’ email.

“It’s hilarious that Arbitron would lead you to believe they were positive on a resolution of the 6-11 year old issue. They have fought taking them out every step of the way, including saying it was beyond the capabilities of their software. If what they assert is true, I look forward to the announcement from the Advisory Council in July,” he said.

Neil had been pressing on the accreditation issue for months, demanding that Arbitron institute the panel recruitment method it uses for PPM in Houston, which is MRC accredited, in all other markets. The Houston recruitment methodology was developed when Nielsen was considering a joint venture with Arbitron to measure TV as well as radio with PPM. That system uses recruiters knocking on doors in addition to telephone calls. When Nielsen walked away, Arbitron decided to use a cheaper “Radio First” system relying solely on telephone recruiting going forward.   

“When the ‘Radio First’ system was proposed, Arbitron lead the industry to believe getting accredited was a slam dunk, and that it would happen quickly. That was one and a half YEARS ago. A year from now would essentially be two and half YEARS.  Something is wrong with the system if it takes that long. I equate the MRC accreditation with the science – or the foundation – of the research. The sampling is the structure…and you need both to have a sound house. So far they’ve failed on getting the foundation approved, and they’ve done a fairly rotten job on the sampling. The Beverly Hillbillies lived in a better shack in the woods than this House That Arbitron Built,” Neil quipped.