At the request of broadcasters and its own Advisory Committee on Diversity, the FCC on Monday issued a notice of inquiry that seeks comment on methods used by research firm Arbitron to determine broadcast radio audience ratings. Data compiled by Arbitron is used by the FCC to determine the markets in which broadcasters may co-own radio, television and newspaper facilities under the agency’s cross-ownership rules. In recent years, Arbitron replaced its diary-based recording system with radio-based devices, known as Portable People Meters (PPMs), that are worn by listeners and that automatically detect the stations they listen to. Although acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps and FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell have said that Arbitron’s PPM technology offers significant benefits over the previous diary-based system, critics contend that the PPM system does not accurately depict audience size for stations that are popular with minorities and may thus impact the ability of these stations to compete for advertising dollars. Broadcasters further allege that Arbitron uses sample groups that largely overlook cell-phone only households, which currently account for nearly 20% of African American and Hispanic homes. As Copps proclaimed that Arbitron’s PPM device “has a devastating effect on [the ability of broadcasters] to compete,” the FCC said it would seek comment on the PPM methodology, its effect on minority and urban radio listeners, and what steps the FCC should take if the concerns of critics are deemed valid. The FCC is also asking for input on what jurisdiction, if any, the agency has over this issue.