Outdated Radio Regs Could Lead to Radio Silence

On June 25, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr spoke at a Federalist Society event on regulations in the audio marketplace. 

Since 1996, the FCC has limited how many radio stations an individual or organization can own in a market. These rules have remained the same, even though the media environment has changed dramatically in the past 23 years. 

Radio stations today don’t just compete with each other; they compete with music streaming services and large tech companies.

Stations have always derived a lot of their revenues from advertising. But today, stations must compete with large companies — such as Google, Facebook or Spotify — for businesses’ advertisements. Because internet companies do not have the same burdensome regulations placed on them, they can more effectively compete in the advertising marketplace. 

Commissioner Carr spoke on how this is devastating small town radio stations. These local stations play a valuable role in their communities, as they are often carry the only local coverage residents can access. 

According to Commissioner Carr, outdated regulations such as these helped lead to the decline of newspapers. Tech companies also disrupted newspapers’ operations, leading to dramatic decreases in print advertising. The FCC didn’t change its rules preventing broadcasters from owning newspapers until 2017, but by then many newspapers had already shut down. 

The FCC wants to bolster local news coverage and prevent the devastation of the radio marketplace. Modernizing outdated regulations will play a huge role in those goals. 

Author: Bethany Patterson

Photo credit: Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)