On the missing Houston station


Despite what was stated in RBR this morning (5/8/08 RBR #91), Arbitron DID NOT discover this problem by themselves and then notify clients – it was another example of clients finding the problem. 

It was obvious the station was missing at 1pm EDT on Monday 4/28/2008 when the numbers came out – just ask anyone in Houston trying to determine how the CBS format flip was performing.

Examine the attached rankers from April Week 1 and April Week 2. You will notice KKHH is absent of any numbers in both weeks. Arbitron statement that KKHH "did not meet minimum reporting standards" after the April Week #1 release was clearly not holding water after April Week #2 was released.

Steve Morris spoke of double checking the data before it was released after the first "data warehouse issue" last Fall. Furthermore, we know from the date code on the final file for April Week 1 that it was produced internally on Tuesday April 22nd @ 1:17PM Eastern before being distributed the following Monday April 28th at 1pm Eastern.
Their "double checks" did not catch the error for over 2 ENTIRE WEEKS – from prior to April 22nd until May 6th when they finally admitted there was an error.

Not only did Arbitron not catch the problem, but the special Arbitron PPM employee/CBS Rep who’s station was omitted in the numbers and had access to all the internal numbers apparently did not question it. One can only wonder what CBS thinks of their "special Arbitron Employee" now if they cannot catch a problem a problem when only 2 PPM Markets are being produced – much less a national roll out.

It takes all of 60 seconds to scan down a list of roughly 45 stations from last week and this week – to see if there are dramatic changes in audience from the week prior – or worse yet – no audience – that should be flagged to examine before distribution of the data. Even worse in this case, the station is listed in the print out with no numbers beside it, yet apparently no Arbitron Employee ever questioned why to double check it.

What would have happened if CBS was already posting based on these numbers?

Imagine the makegoods needed for a 0 rating!

Bottom line, if it takes over 2 weeks for Arbitron to finally "double-check" and correct this – it makes one wonder if MRC actually accredited the Houston Weeklies – as we know that Arbitron Services such as Arbitrends and PD Advantage ARE NOT MRC accredited in diary markets. Checking the MRC website, it states that Houston Personal Portable Meter (PPM) for Radio Average Quarter Hour MONTHLY Data and Television Time Period Data are the only services accredited.

If anything other than FULL monthly report is not accredited, such as pulling several weeks (or days) from the Monthly report, especially as posting is so close, is there any wonder that we, as an Industry, needs MRC oversight in Philadelphia (and perhaps in MORE AREAS IN HOUSTON) before we move forward – nor is there any wonder they failed to pass MRC Accreditation in Philadelphia.

Houston PPM has been currency since June 2007 Week 4 and we have had 42 weekly reports since then. 3 of the 42, that we know of, have had bad or missing data. Simple math tells us that is 7% of the weekly reports (that we know of). Not a very good record for a service that was supposedly tested in the field since 2001.

Here is the link to MRC Accredited services if you want to insert that at the appropriate place.

I have a feeling we have finally stumbled on to a secret that Arbitron didn’t want exposed.

Randy Kabrich