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musicFIRST and Future of Music Take on NAB’s Call for More Radio Consolidation in Reply to FCC

29 May 2020

Washington, D.C. (May 29, 2020) – In comments to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Media Bureau, the musicFIRST and the Future of Music Coalitions called out the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) for not recognizing the Commission’s “public interest obligations with respect to diversity, localism and competition” and for focusing “almost exclusively on economic concerns of only a portion of its AM/FM radio station-owning members.”

The reply comments, filed on May 28, 2020 on behalf of music creators and a wide array of music industry stakeholders, were in response to FCC Docket No. 20-60 and will help the FCC publish a Communications Marketplace Report to Congress later this year.

In the filing, the coalitions rejected the NAB’s assertion that COVID-19 is “making reform of the FCC’s outdated radio ownership rules even more urgent.”  While the coalitions acknowledge that the AM/FM radio industry will likely suffer a downturn in advertising revenues in the wake of pandemic, they dismissed the NAB’s conclusion that the Commission loosening its current Local Radio Station Ownership Caps would mitigate this problem for the entire AM/FM industry. The coalitions pointed out that many owners of commercial small and medium AM/FM radio station clusters, NAB members themselves, have objected to the NAB’s proposal that the Commission loosen the Local Radio Station Ownership Caps.

“Large AM/FM broadcasters already enjoy an advantage over competing audio delivery platforms who pay for the privilege of using sound recordings,” said Trevor Francis of the musicFIRST Coalition. “Based on their arguments, it’s clear that the NAB simply wants Big Radio to get even bigger, making it even harder for non-consolidated AM/FM stations to compete in their local markets.”

“Consolidation and deregulation has not improved the lot of workers or small businesses in radio—rather, it has driven layoffsand bankruptcies, left communities with less local news and less format and playlist diversity, while encouraging private equity companies to pursue asset stripping rather than investing in communities,” said Kevin Erikson, Director of the Future of Music Coalition. “Doubling down on deregulation would not save the radio industry or help workers impacted by COVID-19—it would accelerate commercial radio’s decline.”

About the musicFIRST Coalition: We are a national coalition of the music community representing artists and record labels that supports paying music creators when their work is played on any platform.

About Future of Music: Future of Music Coalition is a national nonprofit education, research, and advocacy organization supporting a musical ecosystem where diverse artists flourish and are compensated fairly and transparently for their work.

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