NAB Selling Out Radio (Again) on Consolidation

The National Association of Broadcasters is at it again. The group that helped tuck in legislation to enable radio consolidation in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is now urging the FCC to allow further consolidation. Cross-ownership, a loosening of the limits. It argues that radio needs to be more competitive with other platforms and more consolidation is how they can do it. But broadcasting's own trade association is only finishing what it started -- the demise of localism and pandering to evil empires of consolidators answering to Wall Street not Main Street. And radio broadcasters sit idly by while their lobby group acts in the interest of a few while harming the foundation of radio -- the small, local radio companies. This is why I say again and again that it's not the iPod that is killing radio. Not even the Internet. They are factors, but the real enemy is traditional media -- in this case radio itself. Where's the outrage? Why don't broadcasters reign their lobby group in and take radio back? Some believe -- and I concur -- that the NAB's deft lobbying to get enabling legislation passed to commence consolidation in 1996 may have been the single most destructive act of all. The Benedict Arnold's of radio driving the innovators out of the business and leaving the confused consolidators who can't seem to make the radio industry a growth business even with their present monopoly. Ask Wall Street. Investors have cooled on radio because it is no longer a growth business. Trying to relax the ownership rules further may in their fantasy make radio hot again -- until investors figure out that less competition not only hurts the audience, it eventually hurts the companies that have a proven record of not being able to run what they currently own.