(by Renee Cassis) That was the topic of a lively discussion, Thursday, at the 34th Annual TV & Radio Financial Summit in New York City. There seems to be an expectation that this FCC, under the Chairmanship of Ajit Pai, is headed down the road that leads to less-strict ownership rules and more consolidation. Is that the answer to radio’s revenue woes?
Some executives in the radio industry believe they are handcuffed by the FCC’s current ownership rules. It’s a much different world than it was in the 90s and executives believe that in order to compete with the unregulated Facebook’s and Google’s of the world — who are taking ad revenue market share — they too should have less regulation.
Across almost every panel, Thursday, expectations of relaxed FCC ownership regulations led to a consensus that more consolidation is on the way. During the Radio Outlook panel, Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley predicted it is coming. “There are consolidation opportunities coming down the road.” Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw took it a step further, summing up what most panelists had been alluding to throughout the day — “There should be no rules on how many stations you can own in a market.”
Warshaw also called on the industry to up its game in streaming. “We have not taken advantage of what we have. We’re running 20 commercials – or 16 or 17 – on our streams, and the generation that needs to embrace streaming won’t tolerate it.”
Programmatic was also a hot topic with the panel. New Entercom CFO Richard Schmaeling is bullish on programmatic: “The programmatic market is double the size of radio today, and we’re going to get a piece of that.” While there were no overt objections, there was a sense of cautiousness, stemming from the concern that radio not become commoditized.
Beasley also noted that radio needs to find better ways to show ROI to advertisers. And Managing Partner at Sugarloaf Rock Capital Drew Marcus spoke about radio’s long-lasting durability. “Radio has always been competitive. Maybe that’s why radio is so resilient.”
The TV & Radio Financial Summit is presented by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Renee Casiss reported on the S&P Conference in New York City for Radio Ink and can be reached at [email protected]