Infinity Replaces Ratings Provider
Byline: Chris Baker, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The merry sandbox that is the radio-ratings business is no longer big enough for two heavyweight players, Infinity Broadcasting Corp. and Arbitron Inc.
Infinity - which owns about 185 stations, including WPGC-FM (95.5) and WJFK-FM (106.7) in the Washington area - announced last week that it won't renew its contract with Arbitron, the nation's largest radio-ratings service.
Instead, Infinity has signed on with Media Audit, a Houston outfit, to provide audience research for its advertisers.
Arbitron will still include Infinity in the ratings it releases every quarter, but come mid-July, Infinity won't have access to the data. No one with an Arbitron subscription will be legally permitted to share the research with Infinity, either.
The spat comes down to the money Infinity - a Viacom Inc. subsidiary - pays for its data. Ratings cost Infinity $25 million, about 1 percent of its $2.69 billion annual revenue, according to trade publication Media Week.
Infinity is Arbitron's second-biggest customer behind Clear Channel Communications Inc. Without Infinity, Arbitron said its annual revenue will be $12 million less than expected.
Of course, this could all be a negotiating ploy.
But when you consider the war raging between the TV networks and Nielsen Media Research Inc. over its research methodologies, you have to believe the Arbitron folks are nervous.
And just listen to Mary Catherine Sneed, chief operating officer of Radio One Inc., the Lanham company that owns stations geared toward black listeners.
When Infinity honcho Joel Hollander explained his company's position at an industry convention last week, trade publication Radio and Records reported that Ms. …