BALTIMORE (Feb. 6, 2009) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced an agreement with Columbia, Maryland-based Arbitron Inc, the leading provider of ratings services to U.S. radio stations and radio advertisers, that will require the company to improve its system for determining radio ratings in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore radio markets, resulting in a more accurate sampling of the radio audience in the two markets.
Under the agreement announced today, Arbitron will take several steps to more reliably represent all segments of radio listeners, particularly younger and minority listeners, including:
-- Undertake additional recruitment efforts to capture, as part of its sampling, cell-phone-only households that do not have a landline telephone;
-- Take all reasonable measures to ensure that recruitment of racial and ethnic minorities surveyed is commensurate with the racial and ethnic composition of the geographic area being surveyed, including using home addresses, rather than just telephone numbers, to identify potential participants;
-- Meet numerical measures of proportionality between Arbitron's sample results and the actual populations in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore radio markets;
-- Provide additional information about the PPM sample results to broadcasters, advertisers and other users of the data.
Arbitron's Portable People Meter, or PPM, is an electronic data-collection technology that records audience exposure to radio signals. Arbitron is in the process of introducing its PPM system in the nation's top radio markets, where it is replacing the written "diary" system the company historically has used to survey radio listeners.
Attorney General Gansler had concerns that with the initial rollout of Arbitron's PPM technology, there was a serious risk that certain groups of minority listeners could be undercounted, imperiling the financial viability of minority radio stations whose ad revenues depend on the size of their rated audience.
"Arbitron's PPM technology is a valuable tool for the radio industry," said Attorney General Ganlser. "Developed here in Maryland, the technology is already in use in the Washington, DC market and soon to be implemented in the Baltimore radio market. As its use continues to grow, it is critical that the PPM system is implemented in a manner that accurately reflects the listening audience and treats all broadcasters fairly."
"We congratulate and thank Attorney General Gansler for his leadership in ensuring that Arbitron's new PPM system accurately reports the listening preferences of African American and Hispanic listeners in Maryland," said a statement from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and the Spanish Radio Association. "Significantly, this is the first agreement that requires Arbitron to solve these problems prior to implementation of its PPM service in a market, in this case, Baltimore. We deeply appreciate Attorney General Gansler's commitment to this important civil rights issue."
The Washington, D.C. radio market where Arbitron introduced its PPM service at the end of 2008 includes Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George's Counties in Maryland. The Baltimore market where Arbitron intends to roll out the PPM service in 2009 includes Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, and Queen Anne's Counties in Maryland.
Source: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler