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Upton to Martin: Raise Radio Ownership Limits

Upton to Martin: Raise Radio Ownership Limits

Rep. Fred Upton., R- Mich., believes the FCC should raise the radio ownership limits and allow owners to own more than eight stations in a market – starting with the 17 largest markets in the U.S. In a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, the chairman of the telecom and Internet subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee urged the agency to begin a rulemaking on the issue, saying the move would increase program diversity, make it easier for stations to experiment with new formats and enable stations to compete with new threats, such as iPods, Internet radio and satellite radio.
“The two satellite radio licensees each can program approximately 150 channels in every market in the country, compared to the current limit of eight stations that restricts the terrestrial radio industry,” stated Upton.
A modest increase would not cause undue concentration, he believes. “In markets with 60 or more stations, allowing a single entity to control 10 stations would mean that no one entity would be able to control more than 17% of that market. If ownership levels change from 8 to 12 in the seven markets with 75 or more stations, no single entity will own more than 15% of the stations in that market,” he stated.
Speaking at the Media Institute Thursday, Rep. Upton said that relaxing ownership limits increases diversity, noting that in 1993, before passage of the revision of the Telecom Act, there were only 31 formats, whereas today, there are more than 70.
“If I owned terrestrial broadcast radio stations, would I think it fair to field another eight stations in a major market against 300 satellite channels and another 70 to 140 local broadcast radio stations? Not even a Senate filibuster could persuade me that those were fair odds,” he said.
He’s arguing for a targeted proposal to “get this done this year.”