A new report from the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) concludes that consolidation of the U.S. radio industry in the last decade has led to decreased competition, less diversity of programming, and un

A new report from the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) concludes that consolidation of the U.S. radio industry in the last decade has led to decreased competition, less diversity of programming, and unsatisfied listeners. The report -- which the FMC filed yesterday (Nov. 18) with the Federal Communications Commission for possible inclusion in its ongoing review of station ownership rules -- has riled the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which claims that the study's methodology is flawed and its assertions are "myths."

The report analyzed current industry data compiled from Billboard sister magazine Airplay Monitor and other trade publications. It concludes that the U.S. radio industry is an "oligarchy," with every territory dominated by four companies with market share of 70% or more. It found that 10 companies control two-thirds of both listeners and revenues nationwide; of those, Clear Channel Communications and Viacom control 42% of listeners and 45% of revenues. It also finds that in 28 of the 30 major markets, four companies or less control more than 50% of listeners.

Meanwhile, the report found "considerable format homogeneity," with "playlist overlap between supposedly distinct formats" of as much as 76%. As a result of shrinking playlists, it says, the five major record companies have limited their promotion efforts, creating "a double bottleneck" for artists that makes it more difficult for them to secure airplay.

The FMC also conducted a survey of 500 radio listeners. It found that 80% support action to prevent further consolidation and want less repetition of songs and playlists with more variety. About 68% of respondents say they support Congressional involvement to curb the use of indie promoters who pay fees to have product they represent considered for airplay.

A NAB statement says the survey results contradict the positive responses of 3,000 listeners in a recent poll conducted by Arbitron/Edison Research Service.

As previously reported, the FMC's third annual policy summit will be held Jan. 5-7, 2003, on the campus of Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown University. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) will give keynote speeches during the event, which will also feature as panelists Fugazi principal/Dischord Records co-founder Ian MacKaye, musician Patti Smith, and California State Senator Kevin Murray.

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