Given how archaic the FCC’s bans on media cross-ownership are, it’s imperative the commission eliminate them now. So says NAB, telling the agency even the commission itself concluded in 2011 the ban against one company owning both a radio and TV station in the same market “is no longer necessary” given how radio’s competitors have increased.
The radio industry faces growing competitive challenges from online and digital options, with weekly online radio listening growing slowly from only two percent of the total population (age 12+) in 2000 to 17 percent in 2010, and then “skyrocketing” to 50 percent in 2016, NAB cites data from Edison Research and Triton Digital. “This trend will only accelerate, as nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of those ages 12-24 listen to online radio weekly, and 56 percent of Americans ages 25-54 listen weekly to online radio,” notes NAB in an ex parte filing.
As listeners have more audio options, radio advertising revenue has fallen “significantly” over the past decade, with SNL Kagan reporting that radio advertising revenue shrunk at a compound annual growth rate of 3.8 percent from 2006-2015. Over the next decade, SNL Kagan projects the radio sector’s advertising revenue to be flat, something the FCC can’t ignore, NAB cites.
Diversity concerns as a reason for keeping the ban don’t hold up. In 2014, the FCC found most radio stations don’t produce “significant amounts” of local news and most consumers don’t rely on radio as their primary local news source.