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What Consumers Want: Localism & Diversity in Radio

21 May 2019

The nation’s largest radio companies are doing everything they can to maintain their monopoly over the radio industry. And the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is doing everything it can to help them, first and foremost, by pushing for the weakening of the Local Radio Ownership Rule.

The NAB is aggressively advocating on behalf of broadcasters looking to get bigger for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to effectively eliminate protections for local radio stations in certain media markets, ensuring the big guys can swoop in and take over. They claim to be pursuing this path because it is the only way they can possibly compete for listeners in today’s marketplace.

But what the NAB fails to realize, or refuses to acknowledge, is how what they’re advocating for is diametrically opposed to what consumers want.

musicFIRST partnered with Morning Consult to survey 2,201 adults to find out exactly what consumers are looking for when choosing a music listening platform. 79 percent of respondents said that variety – of content, voices and artists – is very or somewhat important to them. However, only 14 percent of respondents attributed that quality to radio.

Further consolidation of radio station ownership, exactly what the NAB is pushing for, would only make this worse. Fewer people in charge of what you can hear means fewer choices, which, by definition, means less variety.

And consumers want to keep local radio local, with nearly half of all respondents indicating that they prefer “local” radio stations over “big” radio stations, a position that held true across numerous demographics including gender, age, political leaning and income level. When faced with the prospect of further consolidation in the industry, consumers viewed this negatively, with again nearly half stating that the local radio they prefer, which features programming controlled by individuals who actually have ties to the local communities they serve, would be hurt most by this trend.

So, consumers want diversity of content and they want to protect local radio. The NAB wants to consolidate to fewer choices by obliterating local radio. If the NAB wants to help the big guys compete, they may want to suggest that they start by listening to consumers.

The entire survey and top-line findings can be found here.

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