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Current Rules Have Outlived Their Usefulness, Stations Say

NAB reiterates its opposition to current radio ownership limits and other caps

The local radio ownership limits set in 1996 can no longer be justified.

That’s the gist of the radio-relevant portion of comments filed by NAB with the FCC, in the commission’s review of broadcast ownership rules.

The NAB reiterated and expanded on views it has expressed previously: that not only are the rules unnecessary but they undermine the FCC’s goals to encourage competition, localism and diversity.

For radio, “Ample record evidence demonstrates that consumers enjoy a multitude of audio options and increasingly turn to new media to access audio programming,” NAB wrote.

“It is illogical and arbitrary to consider only broadcast radio stations in defining the relevant market, particularly because radio stations compete directly with these alternatives for audience share and advertising revenues in local markets.

“The record moreover lacks any evidence of concrete harms that are ameliorated by the existing local radio caps. Instead, numerous studies, including those commissioned by the FCC, have shown that higher levels of common ownership in local radio markets promote diversity.”

NAB further says that claims about the extent of ownership concentration in radio “are almost invariably overstated. As shown in a new study, fully 30% of all commercial radio stations in Arbitron markets are either the sole station owned within its market by its station owner or are part of a two-station duopoly in a market.”

AM/FM subcaps too do not promote localism and are based on arbitrary distinctions. The NAB also reiterated broadcasters’ opposition to the current newspaper/broadcast and radio/television cross-ownership rules.

Read the full NAB reply comments here (PDF).