Michael Skarzynski, president and CEO of Arbitron has been
ousted and replaced by board member William Kerr as word came from Washington that a
powerful legislator was looking into whether the executive misled them in
testimony on the company's Portable People Meters.
According to the company, Skarzynski resigned after the
board concluded he had "violated a company policy in a matter entirely
unrelated to the financial performance of the company."
An Arbitron spokesperson would not comment on the reasons
for the departure, but Edolphus Towns (D-NY), chairman of the House Government
Oversight Committee, said he had received information Jan. 11 that Skarzynski
"may have provided false testimony at a December2, 2009 hearing" of his committee.
"As Chairman, I am committed to protecting the
integrity of the Committee's proceedings," said Towns in a statement,
"and will review this matter to determine whether the Committee was intentionally
misled and whether further action is warranted."
Arbitron has been under scrutiny in Washington, including on the Hill and at the
FCC, for its Portable People Meters, which critics say undercount minorities.
Arbitron has said it has been working to improve the technology, which it
Towns committee released a report back in September
concluding that, among other things, "the ratings company was not
sufficiently recruiting Spanish-dominant Hispanics for its survey." Arbitron
countered that the conclusions were erroneous.
The report was released after the committee subpoenaed the
Media Ratings Council for documents of its oversight of the PPM. MRC was
created by Congress back in the 1960s to independently vet media ratings, though
its seal of approval is not necessary for a company or technology to operate in
Kerr has been a director since 2007 and has been chairman of
the board of Meredith. He has also been on the boards of Interpublic Group,
Whirlpool and the Principal Financial Group.
"Bill's service as a member of Arbitron's Board of
Directors should provide a fast and effective transition into his new role,"
said Arbitron Board Chair Philip Guarascio.
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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.