Fall radio ratings delayed

New Y2K compliant processing system causing slowdown

Radio stations will have to wait an additional 21 days before the release of fall 1999 ratings, the Arbitron Co. announced Tuesday.

Advance ratings for the New York market will now be released on Feb. 1, while Los Angeles and Chicago advance ratings will be released on Feb. 2. Fall 1999 ratings spanned the period between Sept. 23 and Dec. 15.

Arbitron blamed the delay on the implementation of a new diary processing system, which the ratings company said has increased the time it takes employees to credit listening entries.

“The editing and crediting are going just fine, it’s just taking much longer than we thought,” said Thomas Morcarsky, vice president of communications at Arbitron. “Rather than jeopardize the quality of the data, we decided to delay it by three weeks.”

The new diary processing system, partly developed to meet Y2K compliance standards, was designed to ensure that stations have been properly credited for listenership. Stations with similar identification (“Mix 104,” “Mix 97.5”) in overlapping markets were occasionally miscredited under the previous system.

“We pride ourselves on 99.5% accuracy, but we want to get higher than that,” Morcarsky said.

But Arbitron was “overoptimistic” with how soon employees would adapt to the new system, he added.

“The good news is that our systems are Y2K compliant,” said Arbitron prexy Steve Morris. “The bad news is that we are moving along the startup curve more slowly than we had planned, which reduced our diary processing throughput.”

Arbitron expects to deliver ratings for Winter 2000, which runs from Jan. 6 through March 29, on time.

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