On a day when Arbitron was the skeet in a room full of shotgun-wielding representatives and witnesses, Radio One’s Alfred Liggins provided the ratings company some safe harbor. Liggins said he was a supporter of PPM, and that it should be embraced now and improved as it moves forward. That opinion was not shared by other minority broadcasters, however, including Inner City’s Charles Warfield and SBS’s Frank Flores, and Jessica Pantanini of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.
At the end of the day, however, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) threatened to take matters into his own legislative hands if he is not informed of agreement by all concerned parties on significant steps toward improvement of minority radio audience measurement within 30 days.
“I am prepared to do whatever it takes to get an acceptable solution to this problem,” said Towns, and that includes introducing legislation to address the matter.
Liggins testified that in his opinion, there have been no problems with PPM that could not be explained by typical growing pains that would exist under any new technology introduction. He admitted that measurement of Radio One station shows loss of audience, but he attributed that to a fixation on the old average quarter hour measure, diminished by an increase in cume combined with a decrease in time spent listening. He said while audience is down, his stations have regained ranking, and that is something they can sell.
Warfield did not have nearly the same opinion about the effects of PPM, saying it has been devastating to minority broadcasters. The fact that it comes into a market with a significant rate increase from Arbitron attached only adds insult to injury.
Both Pantanini and Flores suggested that the problems with PPM were in methodology, not technology, and both were amazed that Arbitron was reporting major losses in Hispanic radio listening even while the Hispanic population has been growing by leaps and bounds.
Unlike the first panel seated before the Committee, there was no Arbitron employee empanelled to address concerns of other panelists.