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Arbitron Reaches PPM Deal With Maryland AG

COLUMBIA, MD -- February 6, 2009: Arbitron has come to an agreement with the Office of the Attorney General in Maryland that, the company said, are "consistent with its ongoing continuous improvement programs for the Portable People Meter ratings services."

"The company's long-standing continuous improvement programs are a powerful framework for enhancing our Portable People Meter radio ratings services," said Arbitron President/CEO Michael Skarzynski. "This agreement with the Maryland Attorney General further indicates that Arbitron is proceeding along the appropriate course as we commercialize PPM in the top radio markets."

Terms Of The Deal

Arbitron has agreed to recruit panelists in the Washington, DC, market -- which includes several counties in Maryland -- with a combination of telephone- and address-based sampling, with a commitment to use address-based sampling for at least 10 percent of its efforts by October 1, and at least 15 percent by the end of next year. The company will also increase cellphone-only sampling to 10 percent of recruitment efforts by October 1, and 15 percent by the end of 2010.

Arbitron will "take all reasonable measures" to ensure a minimum SPI of 15 percent, and to obtain and maintain an SPI of 17 percent by June 2010, with a target SPI for the market of 20 percent or higher. It's also committed to "all reasonable measures" to ensure average in-tab rates of 75 percent 6+, with the categories and subcategories that make up 10 percent of the market or more falling within 85 percent of that 75 percent target.

Arbitron will also take all reasonable measures to get MRC accreditation in place, and will include a disclaimer on PPM promotional materials saying the ratings are based on estimates and shouldn't be relied on for precise accuracy or representativeness.

The terms Arbitron agreed to are similar but not identical to those it reached with the attorneys general of New York and New Jersey, where lawsuits were filed over the PPM; no such suit was filed in Maryland. The company also earlier announced that it will increase its cellphone-only sample target in all PPM markets to 12.5 percent by the end of 2009 and 15 percent by the end of 2010.

Terms To Be Set For Baltimore

The PPM went live in the Washington, DC, market on December 31, and it's due to be commercialized in Baltimore in October with ratings from the September survey. Arbitron has agreed to use "comparable methods and comply with comparable terms" in the Baltimore market, reflecting the timetable and the market's different demographics. Specific terms will be set at a later date.

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