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Consumers Say Fewer Commercials Lead to More Radio Listening According to New Arbitron/Edison Media Research Study

Most Listeners Say Commercials Are a 'Fair Price to Pay' for Free Radio

NEW YORK, May 4, 2005 - Forty-seven percent of consumers say that they would listen to a radio station "a lot more" if that station had noticeably fewer commercial breaks, while 44 percent say that they would listen "a lot more" if that station had shorter commercial breaks. These findings are from a new study of consumer attitudes toward radio commercials conducted by Arbitron Inc. (ARB) and Edison Media Research.

The study also reveals that more than eight in 10 Americans say that listening to commercials is a "fair price to pay" for free radio programming. In addition, a majority of listeners say they "never" tune away from radio commercials while they are listening to the radio at work (63 percent) or at home (49 percent). Even while listening to the radio in a car, where switching stations is usually easier, only one-third of listeners say they "always" or "usually" change stations during a commercial break. Relatively few radio listeners say that they typically switch the station immediately upon hearing the beginning of a commercial break - six percent of those listening at work say they switch immediately; 11 percent of home listeners and 28 percent of those listening in a car do the same.

"The overwhelming majority of radio listeners continue to value the time- honored trade of free radio programming in return for listening to commercial messages," said Bill Rose, senior vice president, of Marketing for U.S. Media Services, Arbitron Inc. "This study reveals that consumers are beginning to notice stations with few spot breaks."

Just under one-quarter of respondents (23 percent) were aware of radio stations that played noticeably fewer commercial breaks than they used to and noticeably shorter commercial breaks than those stations used to (23 percent).

While 34 percent of radio listeners think radio has more commercials than one year ago, that number is down from 41 percent in a similar study conducted by Arbitron and Edison in 1999.

Fewer listeners today say that they are spending less time with radio because of an increase in commercials. Overall, only 12 percent indicate they are listening less to radio today due to a perceived increase in the number of commercials. This compares to 19 percent in 1999.

"One of the key insights from this study is that a 'one size fits all' spot load strategy may not be the best choice for every radio station," said Mr. Rose. "We've seen differences, based on the age, gender, format preference and location of listening, in how listeners respond to commercials and the way they are scheduled."

According to the study, younger listeners (ages 12-24) are bothered more by the quantity of commercials as opposed to how "annoying" they perceive those commercials to be by a 58 to 33 percent margin. People age 25-54 also are more bothered by the quantity (53 percent) than the quality of commercials (37 percent). Older listeners (age 55 and older) are slightly more bothered by annoying commercials (44 to 35 percent) than they are by the number of commercials.

"There is considerable evidence in this study that reductions in radio spots loads should lead to greater time spent listening to radio -- as long as these spot load reductions are noticeable and stations inform their listeners of the changes," said Joe Lenski, executive vice president, Edison Media Research. "Radio stations should continue to promote the fact that they are providing free content to their listeners and that in the future, with HDradio and other advances, even more free content will be available to radio listeners."

How the Study was Conducted

In March of 2005, 1,003 telephone interviews were conducted with Arbitron radio diarykeepers from the Fall 2004 survey period. The sample was drawn to represent a national overview of radio listeners in continuously measured markets. The results from this survey were tracked against the previous survey conducted in June 1999.

This latest study, as well as previous studies, may be downloaded free of charge via the Arbitron and Edison Media Research Web sites at and

About Edison Media Research

Edison Media Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to radio stations, television stations, newspapers, cable networks, record labels, Internet companies and other media organizations.

Edison Media Research works with many of the largest American radio ownership groups, including Entercom, ABC Radio, Infinity, Bonneville and Westwood One, and also conducts strategic and perceptual research for a broad array of companies including AOL/Time Warner, Yahoo!, Sony Music, Princeton University, Northwestern University, Universal Music Group, Time-Life Music and the Voice of America. Edison Media Research also conducts research for successful radio stations in South America, Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe.

Beginning in 2004, Edison Media Research conducts all exit polls and election projections for the six major news organizations - ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press - and designed and operated the CNN RealVote election projection system in 2002.

All of Edison Media Research's industry studies can be found on the company's Web site at and can be downloaded free of charge.

About Arbitron

Arbitron Inc. (ARB) is an international media and marketing research firm serving radio broadcasters, cable companies, advertisers, advertising agencies and outdoor advertising companies in the United States, Mexico and Europe. Arbitron's core businesses are measuring network and local market radio audiences across the United States; surveying the retail, media and product patterns of local market consumers; and providing application software used for analyzing media audience and marketing information data. The Company has also developed the Portable People Meter (PPM), a new technology for media and marketing research.

Arbitron's marketing and business units are supported by its research and technology organization, located in Columbia, Maryland. Arbitron has approximately 1,700 employees; its executive offices are located in New York City.

Through its Scarborough Research joint venture with VNU, Inc., Arbitron also provides media and marketing research services to the broadcast television, magazine, newspaper and online industries.

PPM(SM) is a service mark of Arbitron Inc. All other marks are properties of their respective owners.

SOURCE Arbitron Inc.

Thom Mocarsky,
Arbitron Inc.,

Yin Chang


Kristen Massaro

both of KCSA Worldwide for Arbitron Inc.


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