Arbitron CEO Steve Morris told the Bear Stearns 21st Annual Media Conference in Palm Beach that delaying Portable People Meter deployment was the right thing to do, not because there was any problem with the data, but because the company needed the “belief factor” to be there – for clients to have confidence in the ratings being generated. “We were getting strong, and I would say emotional pushback, from general market broadcasters and from ethnic broadcasters,” Morris said of the decision to slow down the PPM rollout. The CEO said that delay has worked out extremely well, saying that in the trade press broadcasters are now saying, “wow, we don’t look good, we’re holding back from going from paper diaries to electronic measurement – buyers want us to move.” Morris noted the vocal support from CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason for moving ahead with PPM and said that Radio One, which had previously been negative about PPM, has “swung around” and is actively using PPM data in Houston “and are celebrating their success.”
Earlier in his prepared remarks, Morris had noted that Media Rating Council is not a prerequisite for moving ahead with the PPM roll-out. He noted that it took 10 years to get Scarborough accredited “and we kept on selling the product. The next big deadline is June, when Arbitron will make its official decision on whether to go ahead with the planned roll-out restart in September, but Morris left little doubt yesterday that the go-no go decision is very likely to be go.