The office of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is reportedly opening an investigation into the methodology behind Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) system. The probe will focus on whether the PPM puts minority-oriented stations at a disadvantage. (Updated 12:30pm with Arbitron response.)
The investigation focuses primarily on the New York City radio market, ranked #1 in the country... and it begins just as Arbitron begins its first "PPM Currency Period" for the New York City market.
As very early Wednesday morning, there was nothing on the Attorney General's website about the investigation, but three New York City area newspapers have filed reports on the probe:
UPDATE: Arbitron has responded to Cuomo's office, with a statement saying the PPM is "fair, reliable, and fully represents the diversity of New York radio markets." The statement goes on to point out that switching from diaries to the PPM doesn't change the survey pool -- it only changes the method in which listening is recorded.
Today, Arbitron also testified before the New York City Council. A separate statement on that testimony echoes many of the same defenses provided in the company's response to the AG investigation.
So far, Arbitron has only released it's schedule for PPM rollout through December 2010. That schedule includes the top 50 markets in the country, plus New Orleans, LA (market #55). All other markets continue to have their ratings measured via the diary method.
By contrast, Syracuse is currently ranked #82 by Arbitron. Utica is ranked #162. Ithaca-Cortland and Watertown are in the 280s. Syracuse is continuously metered, while the other three markets are only metered during the spring and fall ratings periods.