Arbitron Inc., a provider of radio-station ratings based on audience size, settled a lawsuit by New York Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo, who alleged that a new method of estimating the number of listeners underrepresented minorities.
The settlement requires Arbitron to fix flaws in its methodology, pay $260,000 to settle claims that its system was unfair and contribute $100,000 to minority broadcasters, Cuomo said Wednesday.
Cuomo sued Arbitron in October, accusing the New York company of violating civil rights and using deceptive business practices. The suit was sparked by the firm's switch from personal diaries to a "portable people meter," or PPM, system.
The meters are carried by listeners and pick up information identifying radio stations, according to Arbitron's website. Cuomo said that the new method didn't adequately represent young black and Latino listeners, households that use only mobile phones, and non-English speakers.
The agreement requires the firm to fund a study to measure and make changes to cure any bias in the system. For example, the firm will have to recruit more people who use only cellphones, a disproportionate percentage of whom are racial minorities, Cuomo said.
Cuomo can rescind the agreement and reinstitute the suit if, by Oct. 15, the company hasn't received accreditation from the Media Rating Council for its New York PPM service and hasn't made the required changes, Arbitron said.