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Monday, December 11, 2006

Radio Consolidation Hurts Public, New Data Shows

The Future of Music Coalition (FMC) will release a new report, "False Premises, False Promises: A Quantitative History of Ownership Consolidation in the Radio Industry," tomorrow.

Data in the report shows that radio ownership consolidation at the national and local levels has led to fewer choices in radio programming and harmed the listening public and those working in the music and media industries, including DJs, programmers and musicians.

"When Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the radio industry changed drastically," says Peter DiCola, FMC Research Director and the report's author. "Historical data from the industry reveal unprecedented consolidation and show that the Telecom Act has backfired in terms of the FCC's goals of competition, localism and diversity in radio. Commercial radio now offers musicians fewer opportunities to get airtime and offers the public a narrow set of overlapping and homogenized programming formats."

Key findings include:

  • The top four radio station owners have almost half of the listeners and the top ten owners have almost two-thirds of listeners.
  • The "localness" of radio ownership -- ownership by individuals living in the community -- has declined between 1975 and 2005 by almost one-third.
  • Just 15 formats make up three-quarters of all commercial programming. Moreover, radio formats with different names can overlap up to 80 percent in terms of the songs played on them.
  • Niche musical formats like classical, jazz, Americana, bluegrass, new rock and folk, where they exist, are provided almost exclusively by smaller station groups.
  • Across 155 markets, radio listenership has declined over the past 14 years, a 22 percent drop since its peak in 1989. The consolidation allowed by the Telecom Act has failed to reverse this trend.


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