Radio rater spurs critics

NEW YORK: Media ratings service Arbitron is caught in a controversy over its new radio-station ratings technology.

NEW YORK: Media ratings service Arbitron is caught in a controversy over its new radio-station ratings technology. Critics say it is flawed and negatively impacts black and Latino-targeted stations. Arbitron is trying to accommodate the objections while still standing behind its service.

On November 9, the company announced that it would submit its new Portable People Meter (PPM) technology to another independent review in response to complaints from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB).

The group said that PPMs - which use a device that automatically records what stations people listen to, as opposed to having them fill out paper diaries - are flawed because black and Latino urban stations have seen large rating declines in the PPM trials.

Arbitron SVP of PR Thom Mocarsky said ratings for individual stations are down because PPMs show that people listen to a greater number of stations than they recorded in the diaries.

NABOB did not comment before press time.

Mocarsky said Arbitron has been doing ongoing outreach to groups like NABOB since the PPM's initial development in 2001, and that the company is "perfectly willing" to undergo another review.

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