NAB Files Comments In Favor Of More Deregulation


No surprise here. The 206-page filing includes charts, graphs, details of financial reports, a 2-page Table of Contents, and a summary. We’ve summed it up for you in a few paragraphs.

The NAB wants to see more deregulation for its radio and TV members. Most NAB members want to see the rules changed and caps lifted. iHeartMedia does not. The argument in favor is that the media landscape has changed drastically since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and it’s time the federal government got with the times. Radio no longer only competes with radio, according to the NAB’s comments, and there is a brutal fight on for the limited time and attention consumers have.

The argument against allowing owners to own more stations goes like this. If a company already owns six, seven, eight stations in a market now, the bottom one or two are under-performers, so they get thrown in as a bonus on ad buys. What makes anyone think owning 10 stations will make that situation any better?

This is a very radio-friendly FCC and most executives, bankers, and brokers we speak to on the topic believe there will be some loosening of the ownership limits. What that looks like is unclear until the Commission writes the final order.

The NAB is calling on the FCC to adapt its proposal:

  • In Nielsen Audio markets 1-75, a single entity could own or control up to eight commercial FM stations, with no cap on AM ownership;
  • To promote new entry into broadcasting, an owner in these top 75 markets would be permitted to own up to two additional commercial FM stations (for a total of 10 FMs) by participating in the FCC’s incubator program; and
  • In Nielsen markets outside of the top 75 and in unrated markets, there would be no restrictions on the number of commercial FM or AM stations a single entity could own.

The NAB states that its proposal, “reflects the competitive changes in the marketplace that impact broadcast radio generally, and it appropriately accounts for the special challenges facing small-market stations and AM stations in particular.”

Got some time to kill? Read the NAB’s comments HERE.


  1. At what point will the DOJ place its jurisdiction over the market?
    Does anyone really believe lifting present limits will allow radio stations to better serve the public?
    In your article you mentioned you have spoken to brokers, bankers and NAB members. Those are the folks who will be better served by lifting present rules.
    Certainly the employees of those groups and the public will see less news and services and many fewer job opportunities if the NAB is successful with this proposal.

    • “At what point will the DOJ place its jurisdiction over the market?”

      DOJ approval is completely separate from FCC approval. So it’s possible for an acquisition to meet FCC rules, but not DOJ rules. The DOJ approval has to do with the percentage of market revenue a cluster controls. This came into play with Entercom’s Boston cluster last year. Any concerns people have about monopoly would be addressed by the DOJ.

  2. Big Business buys (or leases) Big Gummint.
    The concept of competition is nowhere in the mix.
    This is about overwhelming any competition by applying conveniently-supplied, new and exciting regulations.
    Everybody else can just back off.
    “Makin’ a deal heyah!”

  3. Are you kidding me? Sure let’s let some companies have a total monopoly over radio advertising in a market. That is just plain dumb. More de regulation will lead to even further jobs lost. Haven’t we learned anything?

    • Dave, do you really think they care about jobs?
      The fewer jobs the lower the payroll and more money for the bankers, brokers and NAB members.


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