NABOB renews call for PPM slowdown

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With the first PPM data out of New York (11/8/07 RBR #219) showing the same ratings drop off for Urban and Hispanic stations seen in Houston and Philadelphia, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters has renewed its call "for Arbitron to postpone its market rollout plan in new markets until it corrects significant flaws with the new PPM audience measurement methodology."


"The New York City results were even worse for urban and Hispanic radio than the Philadelphia and Houston numbers.  The New York PPM numbers showed a substantial loss of audience for all stations, but the loss for the Urban and Hispanic formatted stations was far worse than for the market as a whole," said Jim Winston, Executive Director and General Counsel of NABOB.

Arbitron has maintained that Urban and Hispanic stations have tended to suffer the greatest downward shifts in AQH ratings under PPM because their audiences are so loyal and over-reported listening in diaries. Winston isn’t buying it.

"The drastic declines in audience for the New York urban and Hispanic stations cannot be attributed to the alleged superiority of the PPM methodology over the diary methodology.  Declines this substantial raise serious issues about who and what is actually being measured and how the PPM methodology manipulates that data. Given Arbitron’s virtual monopoly, Arbitron is able to dictate tremendous fee increases, which it knows the stations must pay because there is no other ratings alternative. Therefore, urban formatted, Hispanic formatted and minority owned stations – formats and stations that have been the most negatively impacted by PPM to date – are forced to pay increased fees for a service they know produces results that will likely be to their financial detriment," Winston said.

RBR/TVBR observation: Uh Oh, it is going to hit the fan. Arbitron declined our request for a response to NABOB, but the ratings company had already scheduled a conference call for today with reporters to discuss the latest numbers from Houston, Philadelphia and New York. We’re hearing that for the Long Island imbedded market, in-tab numbers for some demos are too low to even calculate ratings. It is just 52 days until PPM is supposed to become the ratings currency in New York and two embedded markets, so Arbitron clearly has work to do. Given the problems with hitting in-tab targets for key demos, some broadcasters are wondering why Arbitron isn’t using its MRC-accredited recruitment methodology from Houston in every market, rather than preparing to switch Houston over once its less expensive recruitment methods win the MRC stamp of approval. The Houston recruitment methodology, based on addresses – including knocking on doors when other approaches fall short – was an outgrowth of Arbitron’s attempt at getting Nielsen into a joint venture for both radio and TV measurement. Telephone number-based recruiting, much like what has been used for diary recruitment, is being used in Philadelphia and New York.  


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