Coalitions: Looser Ownership Rules Would Be “Disastrous”


In a filing related to the FCC’s Communications Marketplace report and the Commission’s upcoming quadrennial review of the local ownership rules, the MusicFirst Coalition and the Future of Music Coalition claim that large AM/FM clusters “already have substantial competitive advantages” in the marketplace, and if the FCC were to loosen local radio ownership caps, “history has made clear that such action would substantially reduce competition among AM/FM radio stations and profoundly harm the public interest in allowing radio entities with smaller market shares to effectively compete with their larger counterparts.”

The two groups say they are “keenly interested in ensuring” that broadcast radio is not further deregulated.

In the 34-page filing (read it here) the two groups reiterate their support for a performance royalty for broadcast radio; they acknowledge increased listening on other platforms, but say that AM/FM has a “huge and unique competitive advantage” in that it does not pay such royalties, also claiming that larger radio companies also have an “unfair advantage” by virtue of market share.

MusicFirst Exec. Director Chris Israel said, “AM/FM radio already enjoys a competitive advantage over their audio competitors — they don’t pay music creators while every other platform playing sound recordings does. Congress’ unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act demonstrates that updating old laws, leveling playing fields, and fairly compensating music creators will win the day over anti-competitive practices.”

The filing also points out that the radio industry is not united in wanting further deregulation, citing the opposition of NABOB and the MMTC, and cites a Radio Ink reader survey that showed 80 percent of respondents opposed to deregulation. The filing also cites other Radio Ink articles, including “Why iHeartMedia Opposes More Deregulation.”

MusicFirst and the FMC also write that “certain AM/FM radio stakeholders have been lobbying diligently for months” in favor of loosened ownership rules, but say further deregulation would be “disastrous for both the public interest and the recorded music industry.”


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