Sen. and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama (Ill.) weighed in on the Arbitron Portable People Meter radio-measurement-system rollout in eight markets, saying that he thinks the rollout should be delayed until the system is accredited by the Media Research Center.
The MRC was created by Congress to vet media-ratings systems, although seeking its accreditation is voluntary, not mandatory.
In a letter to Arbitron president Stephen Morris, Obama and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said they were concerned that the meters -- which are replacing paper diaries in radio-audience measurment -- were undercounting minorities.
"We have worked as vocal advocates of media diversity and opportunities for minority broadcasters to ensure that our public discourse includes a wide variety of points of view," they wrote. "We share the concerns expressed by the chairmen of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees with your rollout strategy and its potential effect on media diversity."
Arbitron has always maintained that it would abide by the MRC's voluntary code of conduct and seek accreditation until it got it, but it has also said it is not going to wait for that accreditation.
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.