Steve Sinicropi, Chairman of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council and VP/GM of Cox Radio Greenville, sent RBR this response to the comments published Wednesday from Arbitron VP Thom Mocarsky (11/21/07 RBR #228):
Mr. Mocarsky’s comments as published today are an attempt to rewrite history and to try to deflect the responsibility for Arbitron’s performance predicament from Arbitron to the Arbitron Advisory Council. The council demanded MRC accreditation for PPM prior to roll out of Houston as currency. This was a line in the sand. Because of the differences in methodology for all markets other than Houston, the Council asked for MRC accreditation in Philadelphia prior to release as currency. Arbitron unilaterally decided that an MRC audit was satisfactory for Philadelphia prior to release as currency. Arbitron positions the methodological differences between Houston and Philadelphia as a more of tweak than a major change and assured the Council that concerns over differences were unwarranted. Obviously Arbitron was wrong.
Arbitron added persons 6 to 11 to the PPM universe against the recommendation of the Advisory Council. We continuously questioned the need for children and the potential negative effects on sample counts in other cells and the percentages of audience below 12+.
We are now engaged in ongoing discussions about Arbitron’s desire to lower in-tab requirements to 10 from the current standard of 30 for estimates in spite of a recommendation against it by the Advisory Council. We have been very clear that the sample problems do not justify a reduction in 30 to 10.
We have already discussed ways to move sample from 55+ and children to the sales demos. PPM like diary continues to over deliver in-tabs for 55+ at the expense of the 18-54 in-tabs we need to provide confidence in demos where most radio sales occur.
We have specifically asked Arbitron for creative ways to sample target cells that go beyond traditional random methodology, and questioned the cost of their current sampling procedures.
The council was concerned about the confusion of multiple currencies, especially in embedded markets. We encouraged Arbitron not to have diary markets embedded in PPM markets. Arbitron actually intended to roll out PPM after the first Philadelphia test. The Council insisted on another major market with significant Hispanic and Black population, since we felt the Philadelphia initial test was inadequate for understanding Urban.
Based on Arbitron’s continued assurance that after years of study and research that they were ready and prepared to roll out PPM on a more aggressive schedule the council believed getting to one currency instead of two sooner rather than later was the best approach. But to position Arbitron’s ongoing difficulties reaching sample targets they set, promised and sold as the responsibility of the Advisory Council is absurd. Arbitron needs to set the bar higher not lower with electronic measurement. It is Arbitron’s responsibility to deliver an accredited ratings service that delivers the targets they set and we need.
Steve Sinicropi VP/GM
Cox Radio Greenville