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FCC Releases Details on Ownership Changes

FCC Releases Details on Ownership Changes

The FCC has released the fine points of its controversial new media ownership rules, passed by a 3-2 margin on June 2.
The commission reiterated that the contour overlap methodology for determining which stations are in a market is ineffective and leads to inconsistent results. It prefers to switch to Arbitron Radio Metros because those are geography-based.
The FCC also will count JSAs toward a group’s total station count in a market and will no longer flag transaction applications that would result in a combo over a certain market share.
On the question of market definitions, although an Arbitron-based approach would be less accurate in measuring signal reach, the commission stated, “Radio stations serve people, not land; and while radio signals may overlap over uninhabited land or even water, people in the United States tend to be clustered around specific population centers.”
The commission disagreed with those who feel Arbitron metros are not sufficiently reliable to define radio markets.
“Although Arbitron Metro boundaries do occasionally change, we are not convinced that such changes occur with such frequency, or that they are so drastic, that we must reject reliance on these boundaries in defining relevant radio markets.”
The FCC will not count “below-the-line” stations as in a market. The agency believes including such stations, frequently distant from a market, would produce distortions in a market picture.
The commission has begun a new rulemaking to craft a market definition for those areas not in Arbitron-rated markets. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
To see the 250+ page text, go to