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NAB ASKS CONGRESS FOR RULE CHANGES

The NAB has delivered a message to Congress that it wants more deregulation and ownership caps removed as the rules of 1996 don’t cut it in the 21st century age of streaming. Two coalitions disagree.

At the Quadrennial Regulatory Review of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the NAB proposed that single company should be allowed to own/control as many as eight FM stations and an unlimited number of AM stations in the top 75 markets in the country. Anything ranked 76 or lower, ownership would be unlimited.

Furthermore, NAB wants to see owners of stations in the top 75 allowed to own up to 10 stations provided two are in the FCC’s incubator program.

The musicFIRST and Future of Music coalitions naturally opposed NAB proposal, stating “if the Commission were to further loosen the Local Radio Station Ownership Caps or eliminate the AM/FM subcaps, some smaller clusters of AM/FM radio stations would suffer competitively as other already sizeable local clusters get bigger and wield even more market share than they already enjoy.”

Trevor Francis of the musicFIRST Coalition said, “Increased consolidation will mean fewer choices, less diversity of content and voices on the air, and far less localism for AM/FM listeners. The FCC should stand with local broadcasters and block this attempt by bigger radio ownership groups to get even bigger.”

The coalitions are pushing for a study to determine the extent gender bias in AM/FM country radio programming, which they contend will only worsen if more consolidation is allowed.

To make their point, the NAB rolled out an extraordinary number of facts across more than 200 pages in their report, most of it pointing to the rise of streaming and the decline in radio listening and even ownership.

From 2008-2018, the average number of radios in homes fell to 1.6 from 2.9, and the number of homes with no radios increased from to 29% from 4%. Half of the homes of those ages 18-34 lack radios.

“The FCC must stop ignoring the intense competition radio stations face by dismissing the many non-broadcast participants in the media marketplace as insufficiently ‘local,’” the NAB wrote.

“This position makes no sense. The local or non-local character of the content on other outlets is irrelevant to their competitive impact on local broadcast stations, which is factually indisputable. These myriad competing outlets, whether their content is local, regional, national or even international, impact radio (and TV) stations in the same way: they divert audiences and advertising revenues away from local stations, thereby making it more difficult for stations to continue competing effectively.

“Ironically, while professing to value broadcasters’ locally oriented programming and services, the Commission has consistently refused to recognize the very competition that endangers local stations’ ability to provide such services on the grounds that those competitors do not offer locally based service. The logic of this position escapes NAB.”

If you’re finished with the Mueller Report, you can read this one here.

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