musicFIRST Calls On The FCC To Tighten Radio Ownership Caps


    With the American Music Fairness Act having no hope of being passed in the current session of Congress, the musicFIRST Coalition and the Future of Music Coalition have again taken their pleas to impose additional fees on radio broadcasters to the FCC.

    musicFIRST and the FMC have started a strong press for more radio regulations, calling for the return of the Main Studio Rule and successfully lobbying the FCC to bring back the FM duplication rule – a regulation predating the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

    A new filing from the duo, intended for the FCC’s 2024 Communications Marketplace Report, calls for the FCC to implement more stringent regulations on ownership caps and to push for a performance royalty framework where AM/FM stations, which provide a free service to the public, would pay artists similarly to digital streaming platforms – many of which run on increasingly expensive subscription plans.

    The filing vacillates between saying that deregulated ownership caps hurt independent broadcasters and that they hurt musicians and songwriters, appearing to use the former to justify the latter.

    Broadcast advocacy groups, including the NAB, have previously argued that both of these stances not only challenge the traditional business models that have supported radio broadcasters but also imply a significant shift in cost structures that could potentially harm stations’ viability, especially those in smaller markets.

    musicFIRST and the FMC criticize the current structure of the radio broadcasting industry, claiming that consolidation within terrestrial radio has led to decreased local competition. They say, “We have consistently seen that past ownership consolidation has driven homogenization and the adoption of repetitive playlists, resulting in fewer opportunities for the vast majority of artists and songwriters on commercial FM stations.”

    The coalitions say as streaming services grow, the influence of AM/FM radio, particularly among younger demographics, continues to wane. They also tell the FCC they believe that the radio industry provides negligible promotion for artists, and terrestrial radio is using musical artists to, “Prop up giant vertically integrated media corporations,” while they, “Invest heavily in their own other non-terrestrial audio platforms.”

    The comments end by urging the FCC to reconsider its approach to regulating the audio market. They advocate for preserving local radio station ownership caps to prevent further consolidation and promote a more competitive market environment. Additionally, they call for the FCC to engage in more robust data collection and analysis to understand the full impact of ownership consolidation on market competition and diversity.

    Days earlier, the NAB filed comments for the 2024 Communications Marketplace Report, advocating for sweeping deregulation – particularly for radio ownership caps – to boost broadcasters’ competitiveness against Big Tech. The NAB argues that the current regulatory framework, with its unique free service obligation for radio and TV, is unsustainable as digital platforms continue to divert advertising revenues away from local radio.


    1. This is ridiculous. First off, nobody in their right mind would actually purchase a radio station right now. Multiples are extremely low and the future looks bleak at best. Music First is just being vindictive. Most of us in radio are barely hanging on by a thread. Another money grab by a third party could easily put my stations into Chapter 11. Be glad to sell Music First my cluster…as if they’d take it.


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