Long-time Portable People Meter (PPM) critic Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), pictured, is taking advantage of the ouster of Arbitron CEO Michael Skarzynski to renew his attack on PPM. Skarzynski resigned Monday after it was found he had made a false statement in testimony last December to a House hearing on PPM.
“This matter is deeply troubling. It must be thoroughly investigated to ensure that Congress was not intentionally misinformed and appropriate action must be taken based on the findings. The denial of Accreditation for PPM in 18 markets, including those covering much of my home state of New Jersey, and this disturbing incident reaffirms the critical need for a thorough investigation into the PPM methodology. I have long been concerned about the propensity for the PPM methodology to misrepresent the listenership of minority-owned and minority-focused stations. These stations are vital sources of information and culture for minority communities, but they cannot withstand the drastic reductions in revenue stemming from flawed PPM ratings. I remain committed to ensuring Arbitron adopts an accurate ratings system with acceptable standards that is fair to all radio stations. I will continue to seek a solution to these concerns by working with my colleagues in Congress and minority stakeholders to implement fair standards for the PPM methodology in all markets nationwide,” said Menendez.
The false statement, as explained by Arbitron officials Tuesday, had nothing to do with the accuracy or reliability of the PPM system. Nevertheless, it gave new ammunition to critics on Capitol Hill to question the entire ratings system and the company which runs it. New CEO Bill Kerr clearly has his work cut out for him trying to deal with the US Congress – not to mention several state Attorneys General. Not only has the deadline passed for the AG of New York to renew his lawsuit against Arbitron since the New York market does not have Media Rating Council accreditation, but the New Jersey AG’s deadline for both the New York and Philadelphia markets as well. So far, neither has returned to court.