That’s the big question being debated by NAB members as they try to come up with a plan to present to the FCC as part of the Commission’s Quadrennial review. With a very friendly FCC, this may be a rare opportunity for radio to get exactly what it asks for — if it’s united, that is — and we understand the industry has at least one big player who doesn’t want any more deregulation.
Many broadcasters are hoping the Commission will vote for some sort of increase on the number of stations any one company can own in a market. What that increase should be, it appears, NAB members are not really sure of yet. The argument for more deregulation is that we live in a much different media world today. In addition to fighting for revenue with radio’s traditional opponents like television, print, and billboard, big digital companies like Google and Facebook have come along, unregulated, and swooped in to every market in America and scooped up a lot of the ad revenue. We reported earlier this week that Google alone is outbilling the entire radio industry.
Of course, there are also broadcasters who believe the first round of deregulation in 1996 damaged the industry. They say it allowed companies to buy way too many radio stations, accumulate way too much debt, and resulted in what we see in 2018, radio’s two largest companies in bankruptcy. They also argue that radio’s content suffered as well, with jukebox radio being piped in from corporate syndicators and voice-tracked stations that have no local feel.
Next week, Radio Ink will be running a series of interviews with owners to get their views on deregulation and what they would like to see, or not see. Our first interview will be Monday with Galaxy CEO Ed Levine who has been very vocal about the need to lift the caps. We will also be running a poll to get your thoughts on whether you think we need more deregulation or not.
The FCC is expected to vote on this issue in June.