NAB Files Comments with the FCC Over Ownership Review
|RADIO ONLINE | Monday, April 29, 2019|
NAB has filed comments with the FCC in response to the Commission's quadrennial ownership review NPRM. The trade group's comments focus on the local radio and TV rules, arguing that the FCC must define the media and advertising markets much more broadly than in the past. NAB also said that digital technologies have dramatically improved providers' ability to create and distribute audio and video programming and have greatly expanded the number of participants in the media marketplace.
Given these profound changes in the media and advertising markets, NAB argues that the Commission cannot maintain its traditional view that broadcast radio stations compete only with other radio stations and that broadcast TV stations compete only against other TV stations. "Neither audiences nor advertisers believe that local broadcast stations are their only options for accessing audio and video content or for placing advertisements," NAB wrote.
According to the comments, AM stations face special challenges in attracting listeners and advertisers in all markets. NAB writes that if the FCC ultimately retains broadcast-only ownership caps, it should allow radio broadcasters to achieve greater economies of scale by: (1) eliminating caps on AM ownership in all markets; (2) permitting a single entity to own up to eight commercial FM stations in Nielsen Audio markets 1-75 (with the opportunity to own up to ten FMs by successfully participating in the FCC's incubator program); and (3) imposing no restrictions on FM ownership in Nielsen markets 76 and lower and in unrated areas.
NAB provided extensive data supporting its proposal to reform the local radio caps and urges the FCC to reform its local radio ownership rule to reflect "marketplace reality." The current local radio caps have remained unchanged since 1996. NAB claims "for broadcast radio to remain a meaningful provider of audio programming, and a viable competitor to non-broadcast outlets unencumbered by comparable regulatory restrictions, radio operators may need to achieve greater economies of scale."