The long dispute between Arbitron and minority radio broadcasters may finally be ending. The radio ratings firm has signed a deal with Univision to provide ratings from its Portable People Meter, a passive electronic measurement device, in a dozen top markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose, Dallas, Miami, San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Antonio and Austin.
The deal includes audience measurement for 44 radio stations operated by Univision in these markets. Univision already subscribes to PPM ratings in Houston, where the system has received accreditation from the Media Rating Council.
Univision was one of the last big minority radio broadcasters to boycott PPM ratings in the markets listed above. For a time, it even refused to encode its audio signals for measurement by PPM, making it difficult for Arbitron to present broadcasters with a complete picture of Spanish-language listening in markets with large Latino populations.
In April, Univision announced that its radio stations in Miami, San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio and Las Vegas would begin encoding their signals for PPM measurement. Around the same time, another minority broadcaster -- Spanish Broadcasting System -- stopped encoding, leading to a high-profile legal fray with Arbitron.
Since then, SBS and a number of trade groups representing minority broadcasters have apparently reconciled with Arbitron, following commitments from the ratings firm to improve its sampling methodology for Hispanic populations.
The broadcasters had criticized Arbitron for allegedly failing to adequately represent certain key minority demos in its PPM-based radio audience measurements. This controversy led to calls for government regulation and eventually a series of congressional hearings earlier this year.
In the ensuing months, the company promised to rectify the sampling errors; minority broadcasters and advertising agencies were urged to join the MRC, which oversees these issues. In addition, many of Arbitron's top executives were replaced.
Ceril Shagrin, Univision Communications' executive vice president for audience measurement innovation and analytics, stated: "Based on the steps taken by Arbitron to date to improve the PPM service, and on Arbitron's commitment to continue its current efforts to improve the service, we concluded that we could begin subscribing to the PPM service again. We remain committed to ensuring that the industry has access to the most reliable ratings data by working closely in partnership with Arbitron."