Advertising and Marketing

Court Orders Spanish Broadcasting System to Restore Arbitron Encoding

Broadcaster among critics who argue that Arbitron's Portable People Meters (PPM) undercount minority audiences 2/14/2010 05:34:00 PM Eastern

A court has ordered Spanish Broadcasting System to
reinstate, at least temporarily, the coding of its radio broadcasts for
measurement by Arbitron.

The Supreme Court of New York has issued a temporary
restraining order (TRO) against the Spanish Broadcasting System and scheduled a
hearing Feb. 16 to determine whether to make it permanent.

That came in response to Arbitron's request that the court
force SBS to start encoding its radio broadcasts under a June 2007 agreement.

The encoding allows Arbitron's Portable People Meters (PPMs)
to record audience information, a system that relies on encoding.

In the wake of that Arbitron filing and its allegations of
breach of contract, opponents of those meters called again on the FCC to
investigate them for alleged minority undercounts. 

According to Arbitron, it sought the TRO after SBS stopped
encoding the broadcasts at stations in New York,
Miami, Chicago, L.A. and San
Francisco on Feb. 4.

SBS has been among those critical of the PPM system, which
they and others argue undercounts the Hispanic audience to the detriment of
their advertising rates. SBS also stopped paying its fees in 2009 and now owes
over $2.5 million, says Arbitron, which stopped providing SBS with the PPM
data.

Arbitron said it would suffer "permanent and
irreparable harm" if SBS is not compelled to start coding its broadcasts.

"Arbitron's decision to obtain the requested relief by
waiting until the end of the day to file ex parte papers which SBS did not have
the opportunity to review prior to the hearing is telling," said counsel
for SBS. "We believe that a full airing of the evidence will lead to a
drastically different result."

The PPM Coalition, of which SBS is a member and which has
asked the FCC to investigate the ratings methodology, asked the FCC again on Feb.
12 to investigate the accuracy and reliability of the PPMs, citing what it
called Arbitron's "escalate attack on minority-targeted radio
broadcasters."

PPM Coalition members include the National Association of
Black Owned Broadcasters, the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies,
Univision, and Entravision.

Last
fall there was a House hearing on the PPM complaints
, as well as an inquiry
by the Government Accountability office (GAO). That GAO report came after some complaints
about the meters from constituents of House Oversight and Government Reform
Committee Chairman Edolphys Towns (D-N.Y.)
.

 

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