PPM now in half of top 50 markets


With the addition of five new markets – Tampa, St. Louis, Denver, Baltimore and Pittsburgh – Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) is now in 25 markets as ratings currency. However, the count for Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation remains at two.

Beth Webb, Arbitron VP/Research, provided a little bit of insight into what Arbitron is working on to try to get more markets accredited by the MRC. She noted that to date, the MRC has accredited Houston and Riverside-San Bernardino, while in January 2008 it denied accreditation to PPM in New York and Philadelphia.

“We continue to work with the MRC to obtain accreditation in these markets by continuing to undergo the yearly audit, by monthly meetings with MRC staff on the status of these markets and all markets, and by continuing to answer the questions raised by the audit committee. All other commercialized PPM markets have been audited by the MRC prior to commercialization, but the final decisions on accreditation have not been made by the MRC. And we continue to work closely with the MRC on all markets to support the ongoing accreditation evaluations. In particular we are working to improve response rates, compliance rates, differential compliance rates,” Webb said in Arbitron’s monthly conference call with PPM clients and reporters. The company pointed out that MRC representatives were also on the call, but they did not speak.

As usual, Arbitron officials presented lots of data slides showing how well the company is doing in hitting benchmarks for PPM panel recruiting and in-tab across the various markets and in particular demos. Webb reviewed the “action plan” used in some markets to raise Black 18-34 demo numbers, which had been spelled out previously, but which she repeated because of the new markets participating in the call. Rose detailed the recently revised plan to increase PPM sample sizes and boost participation by cell phone only households.

In yet another bid to demonstrate that PPM is not detrimental to minority radio stations, Rose showed how Howard University’s commercial Urban WHUR-FM Washington, DC has been gradually growing its ratings under PPM to become the market’s #1 station.

Eight more markets are scheduled to have PPM as their ratings currency before the year ends – barely before the year ends. Ratings for the December 2009 PPM month, which actually ends December 9th, are due to be released on New Year’s Eve. PPM will then become currency in Portland, OR, Sacramento, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Kansas City and Las Vegas.

RBR-TVBR observation: Unless PPM gets accreditation for the New York market by this Thursday, October 15th, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has the right to void the settlement with Arbitron struck in January. So, more court battles may lie ahead.

Arbitron Sr. VP of Marketing Bill Rose mentioned the company’s ongoing negotiations with state attorneys general, as well as the FCC and US Congress, in Monday’s conference call, but said the company would have no comment on how they are progressing.

Cuomo is gearing up for a run for Governor. Renewing his battle with Arbitron for allegedly under-counting minority radio listeners and therefore hurting Black and Hispanic businesses in New York would appear to be a move that would help make him appealing to minority voters.

After all, attacking corporate radio interests as AG helped Eliot Spitzer get elected Governor. But then, he did some other things that got him in big trouble.