The sticky topic of more radio deregulation was discussed at the Wednesday morning Radio Show breakfast. Many of radio’s big companies support more deregulation because they say they need to own more stations to compete with Facebook and Google (iHeartMedia is opposed). There are others in the industry who believe more deregulation will not improve radio’s position with the advertisers one bit, especially when one of radio’s biggest problems is that too many stations still drop their rates to compete with other radio stations in a market. Or, they will offer discounts on under-performing stations in order to get a larger share of a buy.
Beasley Media CEO Caroline Beasley said she supports more deregulation. “It’s good for broadcasters. The NAB commissioned an independent firm to conduct a study and the results showed that as you grow within a certain market you can take advantage of certain synergies, invest more in content, technology, and service to communities. Deregulation is very important in this day and age for radio.”
Hubbard CEO Ginny Morris is in a tough spot. She volunteers a ton of time with organizations like the NAB and has been friends with all of the CEOs she’s served with for many years. However, you can tell she’s struggling with the deregulation issue, especially in major markets. “Our company has been on the fence about deregulation. It (what was mentioned in the NAB commissioned study) was supposed to happen the last time we deregulated and it didn’t. As for the top 50 markets we’re not convinced. We do need relief in the smaller markets. I’m skeptical about deregulating more. What you will see if it does happen is a whole lot of swapping.”
Townsquare Media co-CEO Dhruv Prasad, who’s all in on more deregulation, agrees that more deregulation will lead to greater format diversity. “That’s important for us in a world where we compete with Siriurs, Pandora, and Spotify. But, if there are no changes made to the rules it’s not a disaster scenario. Radio will continue to focus on local. We’ll continue to focus on data and attribution, those are game changers. There are plenty of growth catalysts and stable days ahead for radio. The industry won’t go away. There are bright days in front of us.”