In a move sure to fuel the debate over TV ratings in the United States, BBM Canada, that country's audience-ratings consortium, has picked Arbitron Inc.'s "Portable People Meters" for French-language TV in Quebec and Montreal.
It has been testing the service alongside push-button people meters since September 2003, but will start switching over to PPMs in September.
"We believe the PPM is the only way we can keep pace with emerging media technologies and the changes in the viewing and listening habits of our television audience, "BBM Canada President said. "Soon, television meters will no longer do the job if they remain hardwired to receivers in panelist's homes."
The announcement comes a day after Senator Charles Schumer of New York wrote to Nielsen President Susan Whiting to ask why Nielsen was continuing to roll out push-button local people meters in the U.S. while deploying a passive portable system in Canada.
Nielsen says its planned Canada tests with BBM are not of portable meters, and an Arbitron spokesman yesterday suggested Schumer may have been confusing Nielsen's proposed joint venture with the PPM test in Montreal and Quebec.
Either way, the announcement that BBM has tested and preferred the PPM's to push-button meters will give ammunition to the foes of Nielsen's roll-out of its local people meters in major markets in the U.S., particularly since Nielsen itself is testing the PPMs in Philadelphia in conjunction with Arbitron.