NAB Response to FMC's Report, False Premises, False Promises

Released by NAB
December 13, 2006

This is a verbatim post of the press release that the National Association of Broadcasters issued before FMC released its study on December 13, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, a group called The Future of Music Coalition will release a report claiming music format diversity on local radio has decreased in the last decade. 

The facts demonstrate a different story, according to BIA Financial Network (BIAfn), a Chantilly, VA-based firm that analyzes the media and telecommunications industries. For example:

  • The number of general programming formats provided by local radio stations increased by 7.5 percent since 2001.

  • Markets of all sizes saw substantial increases in the average number of specific programming formats provided, with an average 22.2 percent increase since 2001.

  • Across all markets since 1996, the number of general and specific programming formats has increased by 16 percent and 36.4 percent, respectively.

FMC will make the claim that the 1996 Telecommunications Act has stifled diversity and led to homogenized programming. The facts demonstrate otherwise. For example:

  • In just the last six years the number of U.S. Spanish-language radio stations increased by 45.5 percent. In 2000, there were 547 Hispanic radio stations; today, there are nearly 800, providing diverse types of music that include Mexican, Tejano and Ranchera;

  • Asian-language radio stations have also increased, demonstrating Radio’s ability to respond to niche markets. According to BIAfn, nine of the top ten Asian markets (in terms of total local Asian population) have at least one Asian-programmed station in their market;

  • Urban stations targeting the African American community have soared in the last decade, with diverse programming that ranges from Urban/Talk, Urban AC, Urban CHR, Urban/Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, and Urban/Gospel. Currently, 72.1 percent of African Americans in Arbitron-rated markets can receive three or more Urban programmed stations compared to only 61.9 percent six years ago. Over 52 percent of all African-Americans living in Arbitron metro areas have four or more Urban programmed stations in their markets.

For an example of radio program diversity in just one market — Washington, DC — click here to view the radio listings from a recent Washington Post.

In response to FMC’s study, the following statement can be attributed to NAB Executive Vice President of Media Relations Dennis Wharton:

FMC’s long history of producing questionable research and dubious data to fulfill its agenda-driven mission is apparent for all to see. As the BIA Financial Network study indicates, free local radio has more format diversity than at any time in its rich history. Moreover, with the advent of HD Radio, local radio will be providing more news, more music formats, and more public service for the 260 million people who tune in every week.”

Wharton will be available for comment following the release of FMC’s study.

Excerpt: Study by BIA Financial Network, October 23, 2006

OVER-THE-AIR RADIO SERVICE TO DIVERSE AUDIENCES

Executive Summary

Radio stations in local markets battle daily to attract and retain listeners. That competition is largely driven by adjusting and improving the programming provided by these radio stations to local audiences. Consequently, local radio broadcasters are constantly examining their stations’ programming and evaluating opportunities to alter that programming in order to better serve their local communities, attract larger audiences and generate greater revenues.

Following passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, radio station owners began to provide more diverse types of programming to listeners. A number of previous studies have confirmed that the post-1996 ownership changes in the radio industry resulted in this offering of more varied types of programming to audiences.

One purpose of this paper is to update those earlier studies to see whether the trend toward greater programming diversity has continued. The results of this update clearly show that the trend continues:

• The number of general programming formats provided by local radio stations increased by 7.5% since 2001.

• Markets of all sizes saw substantial increases in the average number of specific programming formats provided, with an average 22.2% increase since 2001.

• Across all markets since 1996, the number of general and specific programming formats has increased by 16% and 36.4%, respectively.

Another purpose of this paper is to further analyze whether the terrestrial radio industry is providing additional services for diverse audiences and the total population as a whole. That analysis demonstrates increased services to different demographic groups such as:

• In just the last six years the number of U.S. Spanish-language radio stations increased by 45.5%.

• Over half (50.4%) of the Hispanic population in Arbitron markets have over-the-air access to ten or more Spanish-language radio stations, with more than three-quarters (79.5%) having access to six or more Spanish-language stations.

• Nine of the top ten Asian markets (in terms of total local Asian population) have at least one Asian-programmed station in their market.

• Currently, 72.1% of African Americans in Arbitron-rated markets can receive three or more Urban programmed stations compared to only 61.9% six years ago.

• Over 52% of all African-Americans living in Arbitron metro areas have four or more Urban programmed stations in their markets.

• Since 2000, the number of news/talk stations has increased by almost 21%.

• Nearly 71% of the total population in Arbitron metro areas have at least four news/talk stations in their markets, with 55.5% having access to at least six such stations over-the-air.

• Radio stations throughout the country are providing expanded services with very new and different types of programming, some of which are being provided on multicast HD radio signals.

After updating the previous analyses on radio programming and “digging deeper” into the data, one can easily see that radio station owners are expanding their offerings to serve a broad range of demographic groups. Local broadcasters clearly see opportunities in providing expanded services with new programming to the diverse audiences in their local communities.


Read FMC’s Response

Read FMC’s Report False Premises, False Promises