Could you imagine "flying blind" as a programmer or a seller without any ratings information on your own station? That scenario could soon be a reality for many Clear Channel clusters, according to AllAccess.com.
The website reports the contract between Arbitron and Clear Channel expired at the end of 2008, and renewal talks have "deteriorated" recently. At issue is Arbitron's cost structure -- the station operator reportedly wants to pay less, and the ratings provider isn't caving.
In the past, such a battle would be tough for a station owner to win -- Arbitron practically had a monopoly in the radio ratings game. But Nielsen, the company best known for its TV ratings service, has rolled out radio ratings in select markets recently, and is reportedly working to speed up rollouts for other markets.
If Clear Channel walks from Arbitron, All Access reports the company would switch to Nielsen where available, and simply go without ratings in all other markets until Nielsen catches up.
Obviously, it's too early to know whether Syracuse would be one of the markets where Nielsen could immediately jump in if CC severs its ties with Arbitron; or if the Eastlan ratings service already employed by Galaxy might be considered as an alternative.
Of course, for those of us not inside radio... we've already been flying blind for awhile -- Arbitron has kept the Syracuse P12+ numbers under embargo since the Spring 2008 survey.