Survey co. could lose $14 mil in revenue

NEW YORK — Arbitron could lose a sizable contract with radio station giant Clear Channel Communications on the eve of the airplay monitoring firm’s official listing today on the New York Stock Exchange.

Arbitron inked a pact to provide Clear Channel with its Winter 2001 survey in 68 markets, but Clear Channel, which reps more than 1,100 radio stations nationwide, told Arbitron on Friday that it doesn’t intend to subscribe to future surveys in the 130 markets where contracts between the two companies expired last year.

If the contracts are dropped, Arbitron said, it stands to lose $14 million in 2001 revenue, roughly 6.8% of the company’s 2000 top line. Clear Channel business made up 22% of Arbitron’s total revenue in 2000.

The news came as Arbitron CEO Stephen B. Morris celebrated the company’s NYSE listing, under the symbol “ARB,” by ringing the market’s closing bell Friday afternoon. Arbitron was spun off from Ceridian, a human resources and media services conglom.

Company’s shares, which have already begun trading on a temporary, “when-issued” basis, declined $3 to $23 in Friday’s trading.

A Clear Channel spokesman declined to comment on whether the negotiations were definitely scuttled, but did say the two companies are still far apart on financial terms. The company hasn’t decided whether it will look to another vendor for information for the markets in question.

The 130 markets comprise 99 where Arbitron provided data for all Clear Channel stations and 31 where only some stations used Arbitron. The two companies have contracts in force in 88 markets, but 10 of those are set to expire within the year and 39 more by the end of next year.

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