Claiming radio's influence and reach have been "under-reported and diluted" by Arbitron's diary-based ratings system, Clear Channel Radio has put out a clarion call for a new ratings alternative in th

Claiming radio's influence and reach have been "under-reported and diluted" by Arbitron's diary-based ratings system, Clear Channel Radio has put out a clarion call for a new ratings alternative in the United States.

The radio titan has issued a formal request for proposals to create a new "state of the art radio ratings system that will more accurately and credibly represent radio's true value to advertisers."

Among the companies Clear Channel hopes to hear from are Arbitron, TV ratings provider Nielsen and Italian research firm Eurisko, along with other research and technology companies "that understand and can employ today's technology to help us get accurate, credible, consistent, more quickly accessed audience information," Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan says. "We're looking for ideas that we, and the rest of the industry, can endorse and support."

Nielsen and Arbitron have had extended talks about forming a PPM joint venture.

Arbitron began testing PPM in Philadelphia in 2002 and is now putting the system through a second battery of trials in Houston. But it has yet to say when it will be commercially available or at what cost.

Hogan admits building a new ratings system from scratch would be "a significant undertaking." He adds, "We're on the cusp of moving into a variety of different distribution platforms, not the least of which are digital and online. We need technology that is commensurate with the technology that we're employing."

Arbitron president of PPM and international Pierre Bouvard has said that the radio industry "gave us a big 'to do' list before they would support a roll-out of the PPM," including a way to improve response rates, a second test in a more ethnically diverse market than Philadelphia, and a twin panel comparison. "We pushed up our sleeves and got straight to work."