Clear Channel signs multi-year Arbitron deal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Clear Channel Communications Inc. radio division is signing a multi-year deal to use Arbitron Inc.’s new technology to track listener habits in its top 50 markets, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The terms of the deal between the top radio conglomerate and the dominant radio tracking company were not immediately available.

Arbitron’s portable people meter technology detects inaudible signals embedded in radio and television broadcasts to measure a listener’s exposure to media and is designed to replace paper diaries. Such data is used as the basis for setting advertising rates on radio shows.

Clear Channel’s step marks a key endorsement for the service. A coalition of broadcasters, including Clear Channel, had criticized the technology for its cost and sought alternatives.

Arbitron’s new technology costs radio companies from 40 percent to 65 percent more than standard written diaries.

The source said Clear Channel would continue to evaluate new measurement methods.

Television ratings service Nielsen Media Research had held talks with radio companies to consider tracking listening audiences.

But Nielsen, which invested millions of dollars of research to determine the viability of the new technology said last year it would not deploy Arbitron’s devices, citing costs and other factors.

Clear Channel declined comment. A representative for Arbitron also declined comment.