Citing 'Diversity,' Obama Admin Sides with Leftist Grievance Group and Investigates More Accurate Arbitron Ratings System

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The Upside Down Ratings World of NABOB
On April 9 we wrote of an asinine assertion made about the new Arbitron radio ratings system by soon to be transferred Democratic Federal Communications Committee (FCC) Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.  Well now President Barack Obama has put the imprimatur of his FCC and Administration on Adelstein's addled notion.

Since the inception of tracking those who listen to Guglielmo Marconi's marvelous invention, Arbitron had relied on a personal pen-and-paper diary system and the journal-keepers' honor and memory as to what they had listened and for how long they had done so.  The potential for misremembering and book-cooking was simply staggering.

So Arbitron came up with a pager-esque device called the Portable People Meter (PPM).  This gadget automatically tracks to where the radio dial is tuned, thereby virtually eliminating human error and the ability to cheat.  

Obviously, this is far more accurate way to establish who is listening to whom, right?  If you do find this to be a self-evident truth, you are not a master of the obvious, you are - according to the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) - a racist bigot.

How so?  Because the ratings under the new regime revealed that the numbers for hip-hop, urban and other racial minority stations had long been incorrectly inflated (and conversely the listenership of talk radio had long been underreported).

And this, you see, is not the better results of technological advancement, this is racism.

With these lower numbers comes lower advertising revenue, the lifeblood of the radio business.  So the bleeding must somehow be stopped, even if the reality of the situation can not.   

So President Obama is now on the case.  In the name of media "Diversity," he has ordered an FCC inquiry into the matter.  

Excerpts from the FCC's official Notice of Inquiry:

In this Notice of Inquiry ("NOI"), we seek comment on issues relating to the commercial use of a radio audience measurement device, developed by Arbitron, Inc. ("Arbitron"), known as the portable people meter, or "PPM."#

Broadcasters, media organizations, and others have raised concerns about the use of the PPM and its potential impact on audience ratings of stations that air programming targeted to minority audiences, and consequently, on the financial viability of those stations.

They claim that the current PPM methodology undercounts and misrepresents the number and loyalty of minority radio listeners. They assert that, because audience ratings affect advertising revenues, undercounting minority audiences could negatively affect the ability of these stations to compete for advertising revenues and to continue to offer local service to minority audiences.

NABOB is one of the "broadcasters, media organizations and others" who "have raised concerns about the use of the PPM."  They have, of course, quickly banded together in a new organization - the PPM Coalition (PPMC), although it was NABOB alone that got Adelstein to file his initial complaint.  And to the PPMC Obama quickly genuflected, King of Saud-style.  

This new grievance gaggle is made up of groups with names quite reminiscent of the un-diverse FCC "Diversity" Committee that convened on May 7:

  • National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB)
  • Spanish Radio Association
  • Minority Media and Telecommunications Council
  • American Hispanic Advertising Association
  • Border Media Partners
  • Entravision Communications Corporation
  • ICBC Broadcast Holdings, Inc.
  • Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc.
  • Univision Communications Inc.

The PPMC is claiming that the abjectly poor, downtrodden and forgotten minorities "undercounted and misrepresented" in this new methodology only have cell phones and not land lines, and therefore are missed by the Arbitron PPM placement process. 

PPMC alleges that the PPM sample is deficient because only five to six percent of the PPM sample is comprised of cell-phone-only households, while a significant and growing percentage of young adults and Hispanics and African-Americans live in cell-phone-only households.  PPMC asserts that 19.3 percent of Hispanic households and 18.3 percent of African-American households are cell-phone-only, whereas 12.9 percent of non-Hispanic white households are cell-phone-only. 

Last time I checked, cell phones were FAR more expensive than land lines, so how this PPMC claim fits into the "abjectly poor, downtrodden and forgotten minority" narrative escapes me.

The PPMC is also claiming that ethnic minorities are less inclined to participate in PPM surveys.  This also makes very little sense.  Were ethnic minorities more likely to studiously keep an Arbitron handwritten diary than they are now to carry around an unobtrusive PPM?  Hardly likely.

That Obama's FCC has picked up and made official this pseudo-intellectual twaddle - and assigned the Agency that determines the fate of every broadcaster in America the task of its investigation - isn't very heartening to those of us still enamored with the First Amendment. 

As we've already seen in myriad other areas - federal spending, banking and auto manufacturing to name but a few - timidity is not an Obama characteristic.  If he is willing to take on this most ridiculous of claims in the name of media "Diversity," we are naturally left to think that there is nearly nothing he WON'T do to ensure that the broadcast world is remade in the manner he thinks it should be. 

Yet another Change for which we had not Hoped.

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