NEW YORK — Arbitron will pay over $500,000 and change the way it recruits survey respondents, to settle lawsuits concerning the use of the Portable People Meter in New York and New Jersey.
The New York Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against Arbitron in October 2008, following a brief investigation into PPM use in the New York City market. The suit claimed Arbitron was employing “unlawful and deceptive acts and practices” that could result in minority-targeting stations at a disadvantage.
When the AG launched an investigation in September, Arbitron defended the PPM, saying its method for recruiting PPM-holders was the same as the practice for recruiting diarykeepers. The company added, that the PPM would be even more accurate than the diary, as it records actual listening habits in real-time, as opposed to diaries that are often filled out at the end of the day.
In today’s settlement, Arbitron will pay $100,000 to various minority-focused radio trade groups, and it will buy $25,000 in radio trade advertising that supports minority radio. Arbitron will also pay $260,000 to New York State, and an additional $130,000 to New Jersey.
The agreement also requires Arbitron to seek more participants who do not have landline telephone service. Arbitron says it has already been working on this initiative, as more and more households ditch landlines to go exclusively with cell phones. For many years, Arbitron only used landline phone numbers to seek out survey participants.