Ratings researcher Arbitron Inc. said Thursday that it will extend the ratings
comparison portion of its Portable People Meter Philadelphia market trial
through March 28, after discovering glitches that might have thrown off
measurements in recent tests.
"We're extending the ratings-comparison portion of the trial by another full
radio-survey period to determine if out-of-spec encoder input might have
affected the performance of the Portable People Meter during the spring and
summer ratings period," said Owen Charlebois, president, U.S. media at Arbitron.
The extension period will include Arbitron's winter-2003 radio survey and the
Nielsen Media Research January, February and March television surveys.
Arbitron and Nielsen are continuing to work together to improve sample
response rates in the Philadelphia tests, and they continue to negotiate a
relationship for testing and possible deployment of the PPM.
Arbitron said it had to tweak the PPM's audio input for KYW-AM. An improper
setting, the ratings service said, "may have inhibited the encoder's performance
at KYW-AM during the spring, summer and the early part of the fall-2002 radio
ratings periods. KYW-AM engineers, working with Arbitron technicians, remedied
the situation as of Nov. 13, Arbitron said.
Arbitron said four other radio stations will slightly increase their audio
input levels, but it does not believe the performance of those encoders,
used to measure the stations' listenership, was inhibited. Arbitron said it had
reviewed the performance of every encoder at the 49 radio stations, 11
television stations and 26 cable networks participating in the Philadelphia
"I want to stress that this does not represent a flaw in the PPM technology,"
said Ron Kolessar, vice president of technology at Arbitron. "What we learned is that we need to refine our installation specifications and also to refine our
procedures for verifying that the encoders have been properly installed. We are
also improving the design of our in-station monitoring equipment to allow it to
analyze more completely the quality of the encoded signal."
Charlebois added, "This extension of the ratings portion of the trial does not
impact our current thinking regarding our schedule leading to the
commercialization of the Portable People Meter. Our previously announced
response-rate test will still take place in the first half of 2003, in parallel
with this additional ratings-analysis period."
He continued, "Once we refine the PPM-sampling methodology through our response-rate
research, we still intend to use that methodology to build the first of the twin
panels, as previously announced, in the latter part of 2003 and the second of
the twin panels in 2004."