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October 20, 2014

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5/01/00 Ratings For Sale? An Open Letter To Arbitron
Arbitron, you patiently invested a lot of money, time and energy over a period of many years to build your current credibility with agencies and broadcasters. Today, that credibility is assumed: Your ratings will be strong if your listenership is strong. It doesnít matter if youíre an Arbitron subscriber or not.
Iím holding in my hand a story about Internet Radio listening as reported by The Industry Standard, a highly respected Internet business magazine. According to the story, KPIG is Americaís most listened-to Radio station on the Internet, and someone called Texas Rebel Radio isnít far behind them. Iím stunned beyond words, but it must be true ó all trends in listening as reported by Arbitron.
How is it that the top two Radio stations on the Net are both streamed by Global Media? Does Global do something that others donít do? Is their audio better? The journalist in me had to find the answer. I found it: You donít show up in the Arbitron Net Ratings unless your streaming partner buys the service from Arbitron, and only three or four streaming providers buy it.
Arbitron, you did a bad, bad thing. Whatís next? Are you going to partner with MCI and then start rating only the broadcast stations that use MCI as their long-distance service provider?
When an agency sees a report on Arbitronís Net Ratings, itís automatically assumed that you are rating all the stations on the Internet and then fairly and accurately reporting the results. It is not commonly understood that your Net Radio ratings are only of the stations carried by the streaming service providers who choose to pay your fee.
Can you imagine what would happen if The Wall Street Journal were to uncover what I uncovered about your momentary loss of sanity and good judgment? What would they say at Advertising Age, The New York Times, USA Today, and Fast Company? Iím giving you the benefit of the doubt because youíve always been a responsible member of the broadcast community, but will they? They would shout it like a street vendor. I can see the headlines now: "Raaaatings. Get your raaaaatings here. Wanna be No. 1? Just buy your ratings here."
Arbitron, you should discontinue rating Net Radio until you can accurately reflect all Internet Radio listening. Please let me know what you decide to do. I need to know what to tell the mainstream press when they begin to call.

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