Radio seller: Playing field is not fair against TV, internet


An anonymous seller in the radio biz (we won’t say whether network, spot, national or local), wrote RBR-TVBR with a good rant that describes what many sellers are facing these days in the biz. See if you agree that we are fighting a battle with hands tied:

“I don’t know how we are going to fight this but we in radio go into battle with both hands tied behind our backs and legs tied at the ankles. Our primary competitors for advertiser dollars–TV & the internet–are heavily subsidized by cable, phone, and internet subscriber fees. The internet generally costs $600/year–same for mobile and television cable subscriber fees of $1,000- $2,000/year. 

For example 70% of Disney’s market cap is based on ESPN.  The same could be said for Time, Fox, Viacom–all cable companies get subscriber fees they receive for their programming. 

It’s a nice little public rip-off.  There is a general complaint among many that we should not support PBS and NPR, yet no one seems to complain about the heavy subsidy given commercial television (broadcast/cable) via monopolistic cable subscriber and retrans. fees.  The public has to be made aware of these facts. 

We as a medium could do it tomorrow and by Monday the entire country would be aware of how they are being ripped off.  Incidentally these are all advertiser-supported services.  A general comment, “Why should grandmother subsidize Joe Six Pack’s sports viewing?” The ratio is 30% view, 70% subsidize Sports cable subscriber fees”.  

RADIO IS FREE, if you care to pay you can but you are not forced, a la cable.  We seem to be the only free medium left. HOW CAN WE COMPETE AGAINST THIS SUBSIDY?  If we don’t do something we will all be out of business.  Heard a Philadelphia station at a recent convention that sold for 10% of the value it sold for in  2005.  Same is being discussed all over the industry…the general statement one hears is, “Did you hear about all the deals?”

The cable companies claim it will be too expensive to let people choose their channels a la carte: “Too much paperwork.”  Yet phone companies and credit card companies can tell us to the dollar about each charge.


  1. And tell us how all of that has anything to do with convincing XYZ Company on Main Street USA to use radio based on all it’s positive qualities and the ability to move their products or services?

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