For years many radio executives have been saying that the government needs to loosen ownership regulations in order for broadcasters to compete with the big digital companies like Facebook and Google who are now pocketing massive piles of local ad revenue dollars. NAB CEO Curtis LeGeyt continued that call yesterday.
LeGeyt was the featured speaker at The Media Institute’s Communications Forum luncheon Tuesday. He said, lawmakers and regulators must modernize media ownership laws to reflect the realities of the marketplace. “A report released last Congress by Senate Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell noted that Google and Facebook control an estimated 77 percent of locally-focused digital advertising. Yet broadcasters still operate under a set of rules that pretend they only compete with one another.”
LeGeyt added that broadcasters are adapting both their business models and their content to keep up with the rapidly changing media landscape. However, he adds, the government must adapt as well. “Outdated laws force us to compete with one arm tied behind our back for advertising dollars and audience. Congress and the FCC must take a fresh look at whether these decades-old regulations are helping or impeding broadcast competition and media diversity.”
Modernizing ownership rules were getting a fresh look under former Chairman Ajit Pai. That appears to have stalled under the current administration. And, many believe, with a Democratic administration loosening ownership caps is highly unlikely.