Consolidation Hurts

The Future of Music Coalition is releasing a damning report at 12 noon Eastern time today that will document in a meaningful way what many have thought and few can now escape -- consolidation hurts the public. This is particularly important because some radio groups are using Internet advances, new technology and satellite radio as their excuses to get the FCC to relax ownership rules further. Here's a look at the key findings:
  • 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 fact that further consolidation is even being considered is a testimony to how out of touch the FCC really is. Consolidation has failed radio. Radio has failed it's listeners -- especially the next generation. Wall Street no longer considers radio a growth business -- unless or until it can consolidator further (hint...hint) at which point investment banks will be happy to go around again. While greedy radio companies and the FCC conduct this dance, other mediums are compromising radio's future. Even by Wall Street's greedy standards if you can't build shareholder value when you have a virtual monopoly, do you deserve another bit at the apple? If you love radio, say no. The Future of Music Coalition report will be posted at at 12 noon on December 13, 2006.