Smulyan Favors More Deregulation


Another CEO is on record in favor of deregulation. The issue will be voted on by the FCC — although the time frame is unknown — when the Commission looks into broadcast ownership rules as part of its 2018 quadrennial review. During his earnings call Thursday, Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan said despite concerns that deregulation would lead to some of the challenges radio is now having, he believes the industry needs more consolidation. Here’s why…

Smulyan said the notion of more deregulation today is attractive. “I don’t know if more stations is automatically a panacea. I do believe that this is an industry that needs more capital and deregulation will attract more capital. Also it may provide more efficiencies so we’re not just competing with the radio station across the street, we’re competing with Google and Amazon. Having more scale in the world that we’re in today, I think is helpful.

Check out our series on deregulation HERE


  1. The LAST thing that Radio needs is more consolidation. Sure, capital is critical, but loss of localism has caused the Radio brand to be severely hobbled in competing with other media. When radio only has nationally “juried” content, where will the connection to the community go. What differentiates nationally syndicated programming from satellite or streaming channels? Why would anyone listen to a terrestrial radio station if there is nothing special on the air?

  2. ‘Lessons will be repeated until learned’ and radio clearly still has not learned.

    Video didn’t kill the radio star, as that song goes. Deregulation did. Unless you’ve been wearing noise-canceling headphones these past decades, that fact is clear, succinct and not disputable.

    People, corporations, throngs of those who know nothing about radio are now owners running radio. Of course, their solution would be to have more of the same paralyzing legislation that dug the hole radio which can’t get out of.

    And Jeff Smuylan – representing the views of a company that would benefit from more deregulation – is entitled to his opinions, though they may be biased, self-indulgent and wrong …

    • The only requirements to owning a radio station is to be a US citizen, and access to the kind of money it takes to own and operate a station. That means anyone who works in radio can buy a station. I’m seeing a lot of that around the country. Former radio salesmen, former GMs, former engineers are buying radio stations and running them. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you or any other people who “know radio” from owning stations. You can apply for loans just like everyone else. It’s easier to point the finger at others and tell them how to spend their money. Talk is cheap. Get up and start spending. Show us all how it’s done.

    • Always funny when the entrenched try to defend their bad practices. You are right… anyone can own a station and run it. Doesn’t negate the fact that those currently doing so have shown they suck at it.

  3. Smulyan is from a bygone era. He thinks that with companies owning even more stations in a market, that there will be leverage to force up the spot rates. You can no longer force up rates that way. Advertisers now have way too many other mediums and options to choose from. Smulyan and most other top executives at radio companies now have completely lost sight of the fact that radio station success is built upon local, compelling and interesting on-air personalities and content. But most station management does not want to step up and pay for that. They think they can cut expenses, and consolidate, their way to financial success.

    • The facts about Smulyan say the complete opposite of what you say. He has made a concerted effort to keep his stations fully staffed with live & local talent. He’s been selling off a lot of his stations and concentrating his interests close to his home base in Indianapolis. He hasn’t cut expenses at his stations to improve his balance sheets. Instead he’s sold off stations that are far from his home base. In doing so, he’s cut his debt substantially. As for forcing up spot rates, that’s wishful thinking. There is no leverage in radio to force up spot rates. The only companies that can do that are multi-platform companies that own other forms of media, and those kinds of companies, like CBS, have been selling off their radio stations. If your only platform is radio, you have no leverage no matter how many stations you own. That’s why radio is making less sense to companies like Disney and CBS.

  4. From here:
    TheBigA has made a very strong point.
    With fat tax breaks, no trickle-down possibilities and even greater deregulation, what’s a big company not to like?
    Indeed, when rubes vote for boobs….
    My dad used to say, “If they pour out of clown cars wearing clown shoes, clown wigs and clown noses, chances are they are clowns.”
    Doing less with even more is hardly a strategy for putting out a great show. Nor will it stop the draining revenues.

  5. Blah…blah…blah…America has seen this song and dance before. Going back to 1996 just to refresh your memory…

    It was not, and has not been good for (1) the communities of license.
    It was not, and has not been good for (2) the listeners.
    It was not, and has not been good for (3) the advertisers.
    It was not, and has not been good for (4) the employees.

    Yeah, sure…the industry needs more capital from people outside the industry who have never worked in the industry. Please, give me a break..and while you’re at it, look of the definition of insanity.

    • If what you say is true why do the people keep voting for Republicans? Right now we have all branches of government plus most states controlled by Republicans. What is the main issue for them? Deregulation. That’s the issue they campaign on year after year, and the majority of the people keep voting for it. These are people who are listeners, advertisers, and employees. They vote for people who want less government, less regulation, no unions, and more big corporations. You talk about insanity, but who is it who elects these people every year? As long as Republicans control the government, you will continue to see deregulation.


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