The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

08 April 2009

Obama's FCC Targets New Electronic Ratings System


Fraud-Proof Radio Ratings System Under Fire

After early results revealed record support for the news-talk format and a huge drop in hip-hop listening, a new, far more accurate radio ratings system is under fire today.

With Obama's team now controlling the FCC, Arbitron and its highly-anticipated electronic Portable People Meter is threatened with a potential GM-style coup dictated from Washington. Pushing for the changes is the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, known as NABOB.

From Radio & Records, an industry trade publication:

WASHINGTON -- FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein (pictured) Wednesday morning (April 8) called for a government inquiry into how Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) collects data and affects minority audiences and broadcast stations.

"I'm hopeful that the Commission will soon launch an inquiry into PPM," said Adelstein during the Commission's monthly meeting at FCC headquarters in Washington. "Some have questioned whether we have the authority to conduct such an inquiry. Apparently they haven't read the Communications Act."

Adelstein said he was concerned about reports from minority-owned and targeted radio stations that their audience numbers had dramatically shrunk since implementation of the new measurement technology almost two years ago.

The goal: restore hip-hop's "ratings" and undo the newly-precise measurement of Rush Limbaugh's statistics. Combined with a White House-led effort to destroy the talk titan, ratings have recently gone through the roof.

The method: cloak the real agenda behind terms like "diversity" and "minority ownership", wrongly bringing the race card into the picture.

Because the pager-like device prevents the rampant cheating that occurred with the old pencil-and-diary-based system, where fans of a disc jockey could wildly inflate their listening, some music stations are taking it on the chin. In particular, so-called "urban" outlets have been adversely affected, as strong morning drive personalities were pumped up artificially by this practice. Fudging the numbers hasn't been confined to that format, however.

The PPM system is now being used in Canada, apparently without the controversy generated here.

As hip-hop and other format ratings "increased", it came at the expense of other stations, including news-talk. But the PPM device uses a new technology to detect encoded radio signals, making fraud impossible.

Obama himself first took a public stand against the PPM system last year, but it was ignored by conservatives who wrongly believed this was merely a broadcast industry issue. In the absence of opposition, the FCC is now moving ahead with efforts to dilute the accuracy of PPM, or perhaps kill it entirely.

The result: urban and other music stations will return to the fraudulently-inflated numbers of the past, while news-talk figures will be underreported.

Even before Obama took office, Arbitron had already been forced into "costly settlements" (according to All Access) with New York, New Jersey and Maryland over PPM for this very reason. Other states could now be tempted to pile-on, especially when money is on the table.

With this fight, Obama and his government are undermining accurate technology in favor of an archaic system that will be missed by few beyond the outlets that enjoyed a decades-long free ride at the expense of legitimately popular disc jockeys, hosts and music.

As long as the other side mistakenly believes it is merely an industry issue, the Obamists will most certainly prevail.

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

Amazon orders originating with clicks here benefit The Radio Equalizer's ongoing operations.

Your PayPal contributions keep this site humming along. Thanks!


  • This is so sad, such a typical Obama administration thing to do by continuing his theme of 'False-Transparency' - Barry has reached a new low when his agenda trumps data collection accuracy. Which I suppose is another theme we've all seen for awhile now.

    It's clear the new, more accurate rating system is much better than the old pencil-and-paper diary method. However, since Democrats want control of everything, and because Obama sees an opportunity to falsely inflate and restore hip-hop's "ratings," this is "business as usual" for the President.

    Next thing you know, talk-radio will be required to collect ratings from Obama himself. Forget facts. Without the government, current ratings could be too accurate! Obama will tell you what's right and wrong, don't trust Arbitron's Portable People Meter - trust Obama. He knows what people listen to better than the people themselves!


    By Blogger A 1-In-100 Blogger, at 08 April, 2009 19:26  

  • first time I agree with Maloney in a long time...Hip hoppers listen to I-pods not radio, hip hop like rock radio is stale.... Hip hop is not dead. MUSIC RADIO IS DEAD. CC KILLED MUSIC RADIO


    By Anonymous noLABELonJARED, at 08 April, 2009 21:11  

  • They don't want accuracy. They will do the same thing with the census.

    By Anonymous GeronL, at 09 April, 2009 01:47  

  • This is interrsting. I would say government efforts here are futile. Advertisers will now know the truth anyway and pricing power in the market for radio ads will adjust regardless. Advertisers on hip hop stations may not want to move there ads to talk radio, but they have other alternatives for their advertising dollars, for example, internet.

    By Blogger buck smith, at 09 April, 2009 08:39  

  • Do minority hip-hop stations actually have an audience? And do ignorants actually know there are such things as talk radio?

    Hey if you don't have an iPod steal one STAT. If you look at Walmart, they have the iPods locked up tighter than the now off the chart expensive smokes.

    By Blogger 10ksnooker, at 09 April, 2009 09:47  

  • Another unintended consequence of PPM was that in the SF Bay Area, the local PBS station, not measured by Arbitron, was No. 3 in the ratings.

    Kinda shoots down the libs crying for the Fairness Doctrine.

    By Anonymous ttc, at 09 April, 2009 12:30  

  • Finally Brian runs an article about radio as an industry, and the ignorants, I mean ignorance (after one reads so many low-IQ statements, it's easy to fall into their habits) of some readers comes barrelling through. Public RADIO stations are NOT PBS stations...they may or may not be NPR affiliates some or most of the time. For example, WBUR is a strong NPR affiliate; WGBH-FM, not so much; WERS and WTBS hardly at all. Get it straight: PBS = television; NPR, or American Public Media = radio!

    By Anonymous Laurence Glavin, at 09 April, 2009 14:31  

  • Whatever...I don't listen to radio.

    By Blogger BB-Idaho, at 09 April, 2009 16:24  

  • Lawrence - time to get off the high horse.

    The station referred to in the Bay Area is KQED-FM 88.5, which is owned by Northern California Public Broadcasting Inc.

    NCPB also owns two additional television stations (KTEH/San Jose and KQET/Watsonville) as well as a repeater FM station in Sacramento.

    The common reader should be forgiven if he applied the "PBS" label to KQED-FM, as for many years in the Bay Area, "PBS" and "KQED" were effectively interchangeable terms.

    By Blogger SierraSpartan, at 10 April, 2009 16:21  

  • In the absence of opposition, the FCC is now moving ahead with efforts to dilute the accuracy of PPM, or perhaps kill it entirely.It's absurd that the USGOV should have the authority to dictate what auditing system an industry uses. And based on racist "affirmative action" fantasyworld crap!

    Looked at in the context of the recent nationalization of the US economy by the Bush-Obama regime, this among other
    facts make clear that the US is rapidly evolving into a totalitarian state little different from the old USSR

    By Anonymous togo, at 24 April, 2009 13:58  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page Rank Checker

Powered by Blogger