Arbitron: The Cost of Doing Business

Reading the Tea Leaves May Be Hazardous to Your (Fiscal) Health

According to this post on News-Press.com out of Fort Myers, Florida, the local radio stations are balking at ponying up the big bucks to subscribe to Arbitron’s diary system. If you’re wondering what your local station is paying for the new, more expensive Purple People Meter, this may give you an idea (though larger consolidators do get a better deal):

At least three radio station companies in the area have decided they’re not going to buy the ratings provided by Arbitron Inc.

“WAVV decided not to purchase this most recent Arbitron ratings survey due to the increasingly extreme expense of this service,” said Walt Tiburski, the general manager for WAVV-FM.

Tiburski is especially concerned that small radio companies cannot negotiate the lowest Arbitron rates like the major national radio companies. His company pays more than $100,000 per year for Arbitron services.

Indeed, it’s WAVV-FM, along with the stations operated by fellow local groups Fort Myers Broadcasting (WINK-FM, WTLQ-FM and WINK-AM/WNPL-AM) and Meridian Broadcasting (WARO-FM, WTLT-FM and WFSX-FM/WFSX-AM/WNOG-AM), that have opted out of purchasing the latest ratings. That means they can’t use the ratings numbers when trying to sell commercial time on their air.

Wayne Simons, the general manager of Fort Myers Broadcasting, has concerns that Arbitron’s “diary method” is unreliable. In this market, people being polled have to remember what radio stations they listened to during the day and write them down in a booklet.

“The diary methodology is antiquated,” he said.

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