One interesting sub-plot to the announcement that Nielsen is purchasing of the radio ratings company Arbitron could involve RCS/Media Monitor's Mediabase service, which monitors the music played on radio stations in cities across the U.S. and Canada providing playlists, data and analysis for broadcasters and records labels.
The system, which uses Arbitron's radio ratings data to estimate how many people are hearing the songs stations are playing, competes directly with Nielsen's Broadcast Data Systems (BDS), which in addition to working with record labels and broadcasters also supplies monitored airplay data for Billboard's charts. Once Nielsen takes control of Arbitron, it could potentially turn off that flow of audience data.
However, as is often the case in businesses that work in closely related areas, the situation isn't nearly that cut and dry.
A source at Mediabase says the company has a long and valuable working relationship with Nielsen, which supplies them with data for other television-related products. Further complicating the situation is the fact that RCS/Media Monitors is owned by Clear Channel, one of Arbitron's biggest clients that the new owners aren't likely to want to upset.
A Nielsen spokesperson told Billboard there wasn't any specific information about BDS or the company's relationship with Mediabase available at this moment, noting that as of right now there is only an agreement to acquire in place and that both companies will continue to operate as separate entities, going on with business as usual until the transaction closes.