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Arbitron Discrimination?

Everybody knows that stations with large fan bases (high P1) but small audiences overall (low Cume) are particularly sensitive to the ever-present wobbles of Arbitron.

But something occurred to me the other day.

Arbitron takes great care to properly proportion African American and Hispanic samples in those markets where they exist in reasonable numbers. That means that any "niche" format differentially targeting these folks is likely to get a reasonably fair shake from Arbitron, book in and book out.

But what does this mean for the "niche" formats that target White folks differentially?

Suppose, for example, we have a Christian station with a high P1 – a very loyal audience – but a fairly low Cume. Or a Country station in a market that is primarily cosmopolitan (both these situations are real, by the way). In any situation where you can’t find listeners unless you "look in the right place" and those listeners are White, what does this suggest about the accuracy of Arbitron as a measuring instrument for these types of formats?

What it suggests is that a Gospel station with a predominantly Black constituency is likely to have a more stable Arbitron-measured audience than a Christian station with a predominantly White audience found only if you "look in the right place."

The same will be true of Public Radio stations and any other format which is both "niche" and White-dominant.

In other words, Arbitron’s methodology discriminates against non-ethnic niche-targeted stations.

The Man is keeping us down.

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