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Washington Report: Updates from Capitol Hill

Arbitron Reaches Agreement on Measuring Minority Audiences

Minority broadcasters and Arbitron finally reached an agreement Thursday regarding the use of the Portable People Meter. Throughout the long-running dispute, the broadcasters have claimed that the electronic measurement device undercounted minority audiences.

Arbitron has agreed to begin in-person recruiting in high-density black and Hispanic neighborhoods in July, which will enable the company to reach young minority adults who may not have landline phones at home. It also will implement address-based sampling so that landline recruiting will be more accurate. Additional initiatives include increasing by 10% the PPM sample size for people aged 18-54; forming a minority leadership council and expanding advertiser outreach for minority radio.

“We have been talking with Arbitron for more than three years about PPM, and I am pleased that we have been able to come to an agreement for moving forward,” said Jim Winston, executive director of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.

The accord was reached at the bequest of Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Towns had warned the parties that if they couldn’t find a solution, Congress would. He believed that undercounting minorities decreased both airwave diversity and minority broadcasters’ bottom lines and held several hearings on the issue.

“With this agreement, I believe that minority listeners will be counted and minority-owned radio stations will work more closely in a collaborative effort to ensure the accuracy of ratings,” said Towns. “My committee will closely monitor progress on implementing this agreement.”