New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says he plans to sue Arbitron over its use of the new Portable People Meters, which use a beeper-like monitor to determine exactly what stations listeners have tuned in. The new techology replaces a system where people kept diaries to tell surveyers what they had on---leading often to people "voting" for what they liked, rather than an actual fair study.
However, Cuomo says, according to Radio Ink, that a "significant and improper decline in ratings under a PPM system would cause minority stations to suffer drastic reducttions in advertising revenues," which would "distort the marketplace and severely harm and possibly destroy minority broadcasting in New York."
I don't buy it.
So far PPM results have been skewing more toward rock than urban stations, but I suspect it's because white males were being underreported in the diary studies. They just didn't bother to fill out the paperwork. Women did, and it led to a plethora of soft rock and urban stations.
Minority station owners claim that their listeners are less inclined to wear the monitors because they aren't fashionable. I don't buy that either. Minorities are often early adaptors to a lot of technologies (although they may argue that if they are still listening to conventional radio, not satellite or Internet, that would show they are in the late wave of adaptors).
San Francisco has been using the PPMs all summer, and I'll be curious to see the final results here. They should come out next week.