On December 13, 2006, FMC publicly released False Premises, False Promises – a report documenting the effects of radio station ownership consolidation on musicians and the public. Data in the report shows that station 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.
On December 13, 2006, FMC publicly released False Premises, False Promises (PDF) – a report documenting the effects of radio station ownership consolidation on musicians and the public.
Data in the report shows that station 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.
Key points included in report:
- 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 fifteen formats make up three-quarters of all commercial programming. Moreover, radio formats with different names can overlap up to 80% 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 fourteen years, a 22% drop since its peak in 1989. The consolidation allowed by the Telecom Act has failed to reverse this trend.
The report concludes that radio consolidation has no demonstrated benefits for the public. Nor does it have any demonstrated benefits for the working people of the music and media industries, including DJs, programmers—and musicians. The Telecom Act unleashed an unprecedented wave of radio mergers that left a highly consolidated national radio market and extremely consolidated local radio markets. Radio programming from the largest station groups remains focused on just a few formats—many of which overlap with each other, enhancing the homogenization of the airwaves.
From the recent new-payola scandal to the even more recent acknowledgements that giant media conglomerates have begun to fail as business models, we can see that government and business are catching up to the reality that radio consolidation did not work. Instead, the Telecom Act worked to reduce competition, diversity, and localism, doing precisely the opposite of Congress’s stated goals for the FCC’s media policy. Future debates about how to regulate information industries should look to the radio consolidation story for a warning about the dangers of consolidated control of a media platform.
Complete Report [PDF]
Press Statements, Articles, Op-Eds
FMC media advisory December 8, 2006
FMC press release December 13, 2006
NAB’s Negative Press Release
FMC’s Rebuttal to NAB Press Release
Peter DiCola’s Response to Jack Schaffer’s Slate.com article “What Really Happened in Minot, ND?”, January 10, 2007
“The Debate over Minot Radio” Peter DiCola’s Op-Ed on Huffington Post, January 11, 2007
FMC’s Reply Comment in FCC Media Ownership Proceeding MB 06-121
On January 16, 2007, FMC filed reply comments in the FCC’s quandrennial media ownership proceeding that questioned the arguments for further deregulation presented primarily by the NAB and Clear Channel in their comments. FMC also submitted our December 2006 report False Premises, False Promises: A History of Ownership Consolidation in the Radio Industry in the record.
Featured Press Coverage
10 Years Later, Radio’s Business as Usual
Paul J. McLane, Radio World, January 17, 2007
Rogue Waves; A new report cuts through the static on the radio industry
John Nova Lomax, House Press, January 11, 2007
Radio Is Wrecked—But It Can Be Repaired
John Nichols, The Nation, December 15, 2006
Inside the New Future of Music Coalition Study
Jerry Del Colliano, Inside Music Media Blog, January 4, 2007
Jerry Del Colliano, Inside Music Media Blog, December 13, 2006
Clear Channel sheds stations
Chris Nolter and Ron Orol, The Deal.com, January 22, 2007 (subscription only)
Radio changed hands faster than ever in ‘06
Robert Feder, Chicago Sun Times, December 19, 2006
Clear Channel may sell more stations to meet FCC rules
Shira Ovide, Dow Jones Newswire, December 18, 2006
Peter DiCola and Jenny Toomey guests on Counterspin
FAIR, December 22, 2006
Report: Commercial radio lacks diversity
David Hinckley, New York Daily News, December 18, 2006
Radio Station Ownership Consolidation Harms Musicians and the Public
New Music Box, December 15, 2006
Future of Music Coalition: Radio Consolidation Hurts
Radio Magazine, December 14, 2006
Coalition Knocks Radio Consolidation
Brooks Boliek, Hollywood Reporter, December 14, 2006
Watchdog says US public hurt by radio consolidation
Reuters, December 13, 2006
FMC Releases Study On Local Radio And Diversity
FMBQ, December 13, 2006
Giving people power of the dial
Brad Kava, San Jose Mercury News, December 13, 2006
Report: Big Radio Is Fewer Formats, Smaller Audience
Jeffrey Yorke, Radio and Records/Mediaweek, December 13, 2006
FMC Study Embraced By Politicians, Lobbyists, Talent
Jeffrey Yorke, Radio and Records, December 13, 2006
Report Finds Radio Sameness
Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2006
Rage Against the Corporate Radio Machine
Radio Ink/Streaming Magazine, December 13, 2006