Back to description of Total Line Reporting Initiative
Effective with the Winter 2006 survey, Arbitron began offering Total Line Reporting to stations that simulcast all content 100% throughout the survey. Total Line Reporting completely replaced Arbitron’s previous simulcasting guidelines. It is available in all syndicated markets in the United States and Puerto Rico. The following Q&A may prove helpful in assisting stations to select the most appropriate options and may provide helpful information to all report users.
Q: What is “Total Line Reporting”?
A: Stations that simulcast 100% are eligible to have their combined listening reported under a single set of call letters in all of Arbitron’s local market services—without individual stations being reported.
Q: What if the stations simulcast almost everything, but not quite 100%?
A: The stations must simulcast all content 100% (including programming, commercials, play-by-play sports, and Public Service Announcements). If each combo were to be granted a different exception, report users wouldn’t be confident that the audience estimates represent the combined listening of all the stations in the combo.
Q: Are Total Line Reporting combos limited to two-station simulcasts?
A: No. Total Line Reporting is able to accommodate three-way simulcasts, four-way simulcasts, etc., provided all of the stations in the combo simulcast 100% and are home to the same market or adjacent markets.
Q: Is Total Line Reporting available for ArbitrendsSM?
A: For new combos, Total Line Reporting will first be applied to Phase 2 Arbitrends. Thereafter, Total Line Reporting will be applied to each Arbitrends release, as well as the quarterly Radio Market Report/Arbitron eBookSM.
Q: Is Total Line Reporting available on a monthly basis for stations that are home to a PPM® Metro?
A: Yes. If stations begin simulcasting after the start of a quarter, they will be eligible for Total Line Reporting in the local PPM Radio Market Report service starting with the first fully simulcast month. The stations will be reported separately for that quarter (subject to meeting Minimum Reporting Standards) in quarterly services, such as the (Diary) Radio Market Report.
Q: Who decides under which call letters the combo’s estimates are reported?
A: The combo chooses which station in the partnership will be the “primary” station. All estimates will be reported with that station’s call letters.
Q: How do report users know which stations have chosen Total Line Reporting?
A: That information appears on the “Station Information” and “Special Notices” pages of the Radio Market Report/Arbitron eBook and on the secure client website, my.arbitron.com.
Q: What if a combo doesn’t want its estimates combined?
A: Total Line Reporting is completely voluntary. If the combo wants individual station estimates reported, it should not request Total Line Reporting.
Q: Are there any potential disadvantages to Total Line Reporting for a combo that wants its estimates combined?
A: For a combo’s first report period with Total Line Reporting, prior trends will be those of the primary station only.
For example: If WAAA and WBBB begin Total Line Reporting for Summer 2012—and WAAA is chosen as the primary station—estimates for Summer 2012 will reflect combined listening to WAAA and WBBB, but prior trends will reflect listening only to WAAA. A four-book average would average four surveys of listening to WAAA and one survey (Summer 2012) of listening to WBBB. The combo will begin building combined trends, however, so by Spring 2013, the four-book average would reflect the average of four surveys of WAAA listening and four surveys of WBBB listening.
Q: Why aren’t prior trends available for the combo immediately?
A: Every individual station is assigned a unique code that computer software associates with that particular station. In the above example, WBBB’s listening for Summer 2012 will be “flipped” to WAAA after listening has been credited but before any audience estimates have been processed. From the perspective of the software that processes currency audience estimates, all of the listening to both stations will be associated with WAAA. The software will read WAAA’s unique computer code and retrieve WAAA’s prior trends. Since there will be no current-report period estimates reported under WBBB’s call letters, however, the software won’t be reading WBBB’s unique computer code, and therefore won’t be retrieving WBBB’s prior trends from before Summer 2012.
Q: What if a combo that requests Total Line Reporting changes its mind?
A: If we haven’t begun processing audience estimates for the report period, we can change the combo’s status from simulcast to nonsimulcast.
Q: What about changing status from Total Line Reporting one report period to individual station reporting the next report period?
A: Stations can do that. Any non-primary station in the combo, however, will have to begin building trends again to get a multibook average, and the only prior trends for non-primary stations will be for report periods in which the stations weren’t treated as simulcast. For example, assume that primary station WAAA and partner WBBB are reported as nonsimulcast for Spring 2012, then choose Total Line Reporting for Summer 2012, and revert back to individual station reporting for Fall 2012. In the Fall 2012 book, WAAA and WBBB will be reported as individual stations for Fall 2012. There will be no prior trends for WBBB for Summer 2012, however, and no four-book average will be published for WBBB.
Q: What happens if the simulcast partners are home to adjacent markets?
A: Estimates will be reported under the call letters of the same station (the primary station) in each market in which the combo meets Minimum Reporting Standards. If the primary station is home to the Metro, the estimates will be listed “above-the-line,” as home to the Metro. If the primary station is not home to the Metro, estimates will be listed “below-the-line,” as outside the Metro.
Q: What about translators? Do they need to be included as part of a Total Line Reporting combo?
A: Listening to a translator is credited directly to its “parent” station. Accordingly, translators do not need to be included in a Total Line Reporting combo. You may contact Arbitron’s Station Relations department at (410) 312-8062 to submit information about translators on which your station broadcasts.
Q: Are digital radio stations eligible for Total Line Reporting?
A: Yes. Each HD-primary (HD1) station is automatically entered into a Total Line Reporting combo with its respective “parent” analog station.
Digital radio stations are subject to the same Total Line Reporting guidelines as analog AM and FM stations. All stations in the combo must simulcast 100% (including all programming, commercials, play-by-play sports, and Public Service Announcements) and must be home to the same market or adjacent markets.
Q: Where can I go for additional information?
A: You may address inquiries to Brian Stauffer at Arbitron in Columbia, MD, by calling (410) 312-8045 or e-mailing email@example.com. Please include your name and phone number with any e-mail inquiries.
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Last updated: 1.30.13