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Black Radio Went From Hero to Zero Under New Arbitron Ratings

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Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 3:49 PM

click to enlarge STEPHAN BARNETT
  • Stephan Barnett
We misattributed a quote, now fixed, after the jump.

A new Arbitron ratings system that put Spanish-language and African American radio stations in the dumps will be changed according to settlement with the state of California and the cities of L.A. and San Francisco.

The likes of California Attorney General Kamala Harris and L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich were unhappy with the effects of Arbitron's Personal People Meters (PPMs), which seemed to push minority radio into oblivion.

Even a Spanish-language station that once enjoyed being number one in L.A. ...

... was dunked to number three.

In all 16 of 18 minority oriented stations in the state had 30 percent or more ratings decreases under the PPM system implemented in 2008, according to the City Attorney's and Harris' offices.

KJLH (102.3 FM), a Los Angeles R&B station, saw much of its daytime audience measured at 0.0. Really.

So what, you might say?

Well, in radio land, ratings are money. So if the PPM ratings were inaccurate, they could have cost stations millions of dollars in advertising.

The problem was that the system didn't reach enough minorities, apparently.

Under the deal the state and city get $150,000 each and San Francisco gets $100,000. Arbitron will also do "cellphone sampling" because, it is argued, using landlines to find out what people listen to undercounts minorities. And it will more aggressively seek minority participants for measurement.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich: California Attorney General Kamala Harris:

This settlement ensures that California's diverse audiences will be fully counted by Arbitron's ratings systems and that broadcasters serving these communities will have the opportunity to compete fairly in the marketplace. I am pleased that Arbitron will be revising its practices in the state ...

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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