Monday, August 6, 2018

10 Groups Voice Support For NAB Dereg Proposal

As the industry continues to debate the pros and cons of potential deregulation of the FCC’s radio ownership rules, a group of 10 radio groups has written an open letter voicing its support for the National Association of Broadcasters’ June 15 proposal to dramatically roll back some of the current ownership limits.

InsideRadio reports the missive – signed by top executives at Alpha Media, Connoisseur Media, Emmis Communications, Midwest Communications, Mid-West Family Stations, Neuhoff Communications, NRG Media, Perry Publishing and Broadcasting, Townsquare Media and Zimmer Radio – calls the ownership caps “an issue of paramount importance for the future of the radio industry.”

The group’s overriding rationale for supporting the proposal echoes points made by the NAB, namely that the emergence of digital platforms and devices has “fundamentally disrupted” today’s media landscape, giving radio powerful – and unregulated competitors – like Facebook, Google, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube and others that didn't exist when the current rules were enacted 22 years ago.

“The rules are now a constraint that inhibits radio’s ability to compete, as well as attract capital and investment,” the groups state.

Counter arguments from both large and small operators contend it would make radio’s big players bigger and hurt smaller operators, resulting in fewer broadcasters serving local communities. And while cost reductions may help a company’s bottom line, detractors say they would also lead to fewer human resources, weaken public service and trigger more syndication and less live programming. Opponents also worry that allowing a company to buy more FMs would devalue AM radio as groups sell off AMs or show little interest in buying stations on the struggling band.

Opponents of the NAB proposal also dispute the notion that owning more FMs in a market would give a cluster more clout with advertisers and allow radio to better compete with digital giants. The trend of advertisers diverting dollars from radio to digital won’t be reversed by redistributing stations among a smaller group of owners, they counter. Some have suggested the radio industry would be better served by investing more in data and analytics so advertisers can more precisely target audiences and show attribution.

Just as having one newspaper in a community didn’t help newspaper advertising, fewer radio players won’t strengthen radio, they contend.

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