Inside The New Future Of Music Coaltion Study

By Peter DiCola, Inside Music Media™ Contributor

Future of Music Coalition has released a new study about the radio industry: False Premises, False Promises (available at We asked first whether allowing greater ownership consolidation in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 worked as a policy. Going by the FCC’s three policy goals of competition, localism, and diversity:
Competition: We found that 281 out of 297 local markets had experienced extreme concentration, that is, to a point beyond the “danger zone” for antitrust concerns (see p. 69).

Localism: We created a Local Ownership Index to measure of the geographic local-ness of station ownership—the index decline 28 percent between 1995 and 2005 (see p. 78).

Diversity: We learned that large station groups exceeding the local caps offer a narrow range of about eight formats: Country, Classic Rock, Talk, Sports, News, Oldies, CHR, and AC alone account for over half their programming (see p. 94).
These trends have not improved radio for the public. The pre-existing decline in radio listenership has accelerated since the Telecom Act (see p. 44). But has consolidation has worked as a business model, at least? Our findings—in both our 2002 report and our new report—have suggested that hypothetical “economies of scale” have not materialized (see pp. 45-48).

In the report we make some concrete, realistic suggestions for fixing radio (see pp. 114-116). But the bottom line is that radio policy has to reverse course and promote the efforts of small, local, independent, and minority-owned station groups.

Peter DiCola is the research director for the Future of Music Coalition