Sept 23 (Reuters) - Media ratings service company Arbitron Inc ARB.N said it was “extremely surprised and disappointed” with a key U.S. lawmaker’s findings that the company’s device to track listening habits underrepresented some ethnic and age groups.
In a statement on Tuesday, Congressman Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the Media Rating Council (MRC) found “persistent problems” with Arbitron’s minority sample audiences across the country.
Arbitron makes the device called the Portable People Meter (PPM) to measure radio station listenership.
The device has been controversial due to criticisms within the radio industry and state governments that have pointed to some of its flaws. PPM is currently under Federal Communications Commission review.
Towns served a subpoena to MRC for documents detailing its oversight of Arbitron’s use of the device.
“The documents also show that Arbitron’s radio ratings almost consistently are based on data they receive from an unacceptably low percentage of their sample audiences,” according to MRC.
Not having a proper representation of certain groups imperils the financial viability of minority audience radio stations that depend on advertising revenues.
“We look forward to a fact-based dialogue as we clarify some of the erroneous conclusions reached in this current analysis, and will continue to work to resolve these issues,” Arbitron said in a statement on Wednesday.
Shares of the Columbia, Maryland-based company were trading almost flat at $19.96 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)