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News: Radio Station Ownership Consolidation Shown To Harm Musicians, Public
Posted on Friday, December 22 @ 07:43:21 MST by roadrash
 News and CommentarySenator Feingold commends Future Of Music Coalition for report that examines how concentration in Radio industry has affected competition, localism and diversity.

The rapid consolidation of the commercial radio industry that followed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has led to a loss of localism, less competition, fewer viewpoints and less diversity in radio programming in media markets across the country, according to False Premises, False Promises:A Quantitative History of Ownership Consolidation in the Radio Industry, a report released by the Future of Music Coalition (FMC).

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) welcomed the report's findings. "I commend the Future of Music Coalition for compiling this important report on how concentration in the radio industry is affecting radio's diversity, creativity and local content. This report points to the need for action by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which to date has been more interested in serving corporate than public interests."

The report utilizes almost three decades of radio industry data to examine the changes in the radio industry since the FCC and Congress began to loosen ownership regulations in the 1990s. FMC's report has found that, contrary to the claims of commercial broadcasters, radio consolidation has had profound and negative effects on this democratic media. Key findings include:

* 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.

"When Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the radio industry changed drastically," said Peter DiCola, FMC Research Director and the report's author. "The historical industry data used in this report reveals that commercial radio now offers musicians fewer opportunities to get airtime and offers the public a narrow set of overlapping and homogenized programming formats."

"Our economic analysis of the radio industry shows that the overwhelming majority of niche musical formats like classical, jazz, Americana, bluegrass, new rock and folk, where they exist, are programmed almost exclusively by smaller station groups," said FMC's Executive Director, Jenny Toomey. "Any music fan who wants more diversity on the airwaves should understand that further radio consolidation would have exactly the opposite effect."

"It's not enough to simply critique the existing state of the radio industry," said Michael Bracy, FMC's Policy Director. "In this report, we also present a strong, proactive agenda to reform radio that includes holding the line on consolidation, placing a new emphasis on local and minority ownership of commercial stations, expanding and protecting noncommercial radio, ending structural payola, and ensuring the transition to digital terrestrial radio enhances the goals of localism, competition and diversity."

Consumer groups, unions, radio veterans and artist organizations also applauded the release of the study.

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, President and CEO, Media Access Project "The courts have held that the FCC should retain or strengthen its existing rules unless it finds that that they are no longer "necessary." FMC's study powerfully demonstrates that these rules are, indeed, needed to protect the public."

Jonathan Rintels, Center for Creative Voices in Media "This study – and others like it – should sound alarm bells off all across the nation, as it makes painfully clear that our nation's decade-long experiment with unprecedented and unchecked consolidation in radio and television has been bad for local communities and bad for the nation. Consolidation means more homogenization of music, programming, news, and ideas, with less local news and information, and fewer creative voices and visions. The bottom line is that consolidation is not just bad for musicians and other creative media artists. It's also bad for the American public, harming their music, culture, economy, and democracy. While Big Media moguls may grow richer, consolidation makes the American people poorer."

Mitchell Szczepanczyk, WHPK Radio "My radio station, WHPK, prides itself on providing south side Chicagoans with an assortment of radio and music formats, including many of the "niche" formats addressed in this study. It would appear that this study confirms that stations like WHPK are becoming a rare breed. Listeners and media producers are the poorer as a result. I would encourage people to get involved in acting on these issues and encouraging the crafting of government policies to help address these trends."

Paul Porter,

"Thank you for finally revealing the facts on consolidation. After 25 years in radio consolidation killed my livelihood. Lower wages, less variety and no news are today's standard. Consolidation continues to ruin radio and the public's airwaves."


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