Arbitron Undercounts Minorities,|Hurting Ad Revenue, Florida Says

MIAMI (CN) – Arbitron “systematically” undercounts minorities in its radio station ratings, threatening stations that serve minority audiences, “because those stations will be unable to fairly complete for advertising sales,” the Florida attorney general claims in Miami-Dade County Court. Florida claims Arbitron uses a “flawed methodology for data collection and sampling (that) systematically undercounts African Americans, Hispanics and other minority listeners.”

     Since broadcasting revenue is directly related to Arbitron ratings, the survival of radio stations with large minority audiences is endangered, the state says.
     The complaint cites New York’s minority broadcasters’ ratings, which have “fallen 40-60 percent since October 2008, with a precipitous drop in revenue.”
     The Media Rating Council, responsible for “valid, reliable and effective audience measurement services,” denied accreditation for Arbitron’s service “in several … markets, especially those … with diverse populations,” Florida says. But the state claims Arbitron continues to exploit its monopoly of the ratings market, and selling its unaccredited services to “the nation’s top markets, heedless of the devastating consequences on minority radio stations whose audiences are grossly undercounted.”
     Florida claims that Arbitron refused to change its defective service “in order to cut costs,” even though advertisers have already begun to negotiate “a 30-50 percent discount in their rates in Miami,” which is the nation’s twelfth-largest market.
The state seeks damages for violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and declaratory and injunctive relief.

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