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Dominant Radio Groups Are All Familiar Ones

BIA/Kelsey also senses that many groups ‘have reached a valuable level of efficiency’ at their current size

If you are looking for fresh new names among the biggest companies in U.S. radio, you won’t find them here.

When BIA/Kelsey released its annual list of the top 15 commercial radio owners ranked by revenue, the names were familiar.

In fact Mark Fratrik, a prominent observer of industry trends from his position at the research firm, noted on his blog where the list was published: “If you asked me at the start of this millennium who the big radio ownership groups would be in 2010, I’d have expected some unfamiliar and new names formed by the natural flow of mergers and acquisitions.” But that’s not the case.

“Sure they’ve got some battle scars, but sometimes consistency is a good thing, and for the radio industry I think we’re going to see these same names for the foreseeable future.”

The latest list is the same as last year’s with only minor differences in rankings..

“In fact, the same could be said of even four years ago. Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Citadel, Cumulus, Entercom, are the perennials. What is interesting is that the industry decreased uniformly overall, with no clear out-of-the-box performer,” Fratrik continued.

“We’ll see a similar uniformity as these broadcasters get more involved in mobile, digital, and online endeavors and these same groups should continue as the leaders.”

He also observed that when you put aside Clear Channel, the average number of stations owned by the major groups is around 96.

“Groups in the 40–230 scale seems to have reached a valuable level of efficiency to help them maintain effective control, while also being be cost effective in purchasing equipment, testing things in the market, and being nimble enough to make change.”