The comments of radio giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. in the Quadrennial Review are in, and like Oliver Twist, the company’s request can be summed up in the words, “Please Sir, I want some more.” That means a 10-station cap in some large markets, and a 12-station cap in the largest.
“Broadcast radio remains one of the least consolidated of the country’s major industries,” wrote CCCI, which went on to point out that competition continues to increase in the form of new media entrants into the audio space.
“The use of iPhones, smartphones, and other portable media players to download and listen to audio programming in all forms has become ubiquitous. Unlike terrestrial radio broadcasters, none of these powerful competitors are limited in the number of outlets or program streams they can Coupled with sharply increasing competition from other terrestrial broadcasters and new audio platforms, the radio industry has experienced significant financial setbacks since 2006. Beginning with the financial meltdown of 2007, the number of bankruptcy filings and lender workouts among terrestrial radio companies, along with other broadcast and print media, has ballooned.”
In markets with 55-64 total radio stations, CCCI wants the 10-station cap put into place, increasing the current top-drawer cluster by two stations. And in markets with 65 or more stations, it wants the cap set at 12.
Additionally, it wants the AM-FM subcaps done away with. Currently, a single owner is limited to five stations in any one service in the largest markets.
CCCI also came out in support of an “’incubator’ ‘systems whereby waivers of or exceptions from the local radio ownership rules are made available to broadcasters that engage in actions that enhance radio station ownership opportunities for economically and socially disadvantaged business, including businesses owned by women and minorities.” And it asked that the rules be changed so that grandfathered clusters can be transferred intact.