Menendez Statement On Resignation Of Arbitron CEO

Menendez Statement On Resignation Of Arbitron CEO

Senator calls for investigation and continuation of efforts to ensure portable people meter system does not have a negative impact on minority communities

Washington - Today, US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) made the following statement in light of Arbitron CEO Michael Skarzynski's forced resignation for allegations of giving false testimony during a House Committee hearing last December 2009 on the company's Portable People Meters (PPM) ratings system that examined the methodology's impact on minority owned radio stations.

"This matter is deeply troubling," said Menendez. "It must be thoroughly investigated to ensure that Congress was not intentionally misinformed and appropriate action must be taken based on the findings. The denial of Accreditation for PPM in 18 markets, including those covering much of my home state of New Jersey, and this disturbing incident reaffirms the critical need for a thorough investigation into the PPM methodology. I have long been concerned about the propensity for the PPM methodology to misrepresent the listenership of minority-owned and minority-focused stations. These stations are vital sources of information and culture for minority communities, but they cannot withstand the drastic reductions in revenue stemming from flawed PPM ratings. I remain committed to ensuring Arbitron adopts an accurate ratings system with acceptable standards that is fair to all radio stations. I will continue to seek a solution to these concerns by working with my colleagues in Congress and minority stakeholders to implement fair standards for the PPM methodology in all markets nationwide."

Since its launch and use in the radio market, the PPM system has drawn significant criticism because of its tendency to under-represent the listenership of minority-owned radio stations and attribute them with lower ratings which result in lower revenues that ultimately can force these stations out of business. Senator Menendez, who has been a strong advocate on behalf of these stations and the communities they serve, urged Arbitron and Skarzynski on various occasions last year to adopt appropriate standards to ensure the ratings measurement system provides the highest level of accuracy and reliability.


To view Senator Menendez's most recent letter to Skarzynski: http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/031609ReplyLetterArbitron.pdf


Text of letter: March 16, 2009

Michael P. Skarzynski
President and CEO
Arbitron Inc.
9705 Patuxent Woods Drive
Columbia, MD 21046-1572

Dear Mr. Skarzynski,

Thank you for your letter of February 27th. While I appreciate your letter detailing some developments, I am disappointed that it was made available to the press in a manner suggesting that this would resolve my concerns. In view of the fact that you decided to use private correspondence to me in this public manner, I am responding likewise by releasing this letter to the press.

I am encouraged by your efforts to hear concerns from a number of different stakeholders. A viable solution to these issues will take a strong consensus between your company and your clients serving the minority community. While I appreciate the fact that you are taking such productive steps as applying the terms of the settlements in New York, New Jersey and Maryland nationwide, this must not be the endgame. The terms of the settlement simply established a legal minimum that the PPM methodology must include. I do not believe that this is an acceptable standard of service. It is my sincere hope that you continue your efforts working with minority stakeholders towards a comprehensive solution and work tirelessly to attain accreditation for the PPM methodology in all markets.

I believe that Arbitron must provide a service that accurately and consistently measures listening preferences and habits of all audiences regardless of color, race, gender, culture or socioeconomic status. There is simply too much at stake for too many underserved communities. I look forward to being apprised of progress made with the stakeholders serving these vital communities.


Sincerely,

ROBERT MENENDEZ
United States Senator

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