Radio Owners: Hey Ho, Subcaps Have Got to Go
Six radio groups say AM/FM per-market limits are no longer effective
of six radio station owners is pressing the Federal Communications Commission
to take steps to act on AM and FM radio subcaps.
The groups may have sensed a willingness from the FCC to review
the issue after the commission told the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that it “intends
to act” on a petition
filed by the National Association of Broadcasters in December on the 2014
Quadrennial Regulatory Review.
In a letter submitted
to the commission this month, the heads of Alpha Media, Connoisseur Media, East
Arkansas Broadcasters, Galaxy Communications, Jackson Radio Works and Roberts
Communications said the time has come for the commission to eliminate the AM/FM
The subcaps limit the number of stations from the same
service — AM or FM — that an entity may own in a given market. For example, in a market where an
entity may own up to eight commercial radio stations, no more than five stations can be in the same
were initially put
in place by the commission to promote
competition in the marketplace.
The broadcasters cited
language in the FCC’s 2010 Quadrennial Review noting that a growing number of
stations have called for outright elimination of subcaps. Arguments include new
advances in technology and changes in the market, such as the fact that many top
stations in large and small markets are in fact AM stations and thus do not
need protection, the letter stated.
The group pointed to
comments made by other filers that recent advances in technology — among them online
streaming, HD Radio technology, and the use of FM translators to augment AM station
reach — have improved the ability of AM radio to compete in the marketplace.
six radio groups said that it’s time for the commission to review the issue and
eliminate their use. The subcaps do not protect competition in local radio
markets in light of today’s marketplace dynamics, the group said.
Chairman Ajit Pai told Radio World in an interview last week that
sub-caps are “one of the issues we’re going to have to look at.” He said he hadn’t
had a chance recently to study the record on this issue, “but I would imagine
that as we do our comprehensive review of the media ownership regulations, this
will be a part of it that we’ll study.” The full text of his interview will
appear in Radio World later this month.
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