radio market definition

The FCC routinely, at the request of Congress, does a study of the Video Marketplace. That study is submitted to Congress so that Congress can use it as a factual basis for any legislative issues that may come up dealing with the TV marketplace. The FCC has not previously done this sort of routine study of the audio marketplace. However, in recent legislation, Congress included a requirement that the FCC, in the last quarter of every even numbered year, provide such a report. Yesterday, the FCC released a Public Notice asking a number of questions about the marketplace, to which they seek information to be included in the report.

The questions asked include:

  • The identification of players in the audio marketplace, and a description of their business models and competitive strategies
  • The trends in service offerings and consumer behavior
  • Whether or not there is competition between the players in the marketplace
  • Ratings, revenue and subscriber information about players in the market
  • Information about investment in the market, and the deployment of new technologies
  • Information about what is needed for entry into the market
  • Information as to who has recently entered the market, and who has exited it
  • Regulatory barriers to entry and competition in the marketplace

The FCC is looking for data from 2016 and 2017, as well as any new information that is available from this year.  What will this data be used for?
Continue Reading FCC Asks for Comments on the State of the Audio Marketplace – A Precursor to Reviewing the Radio Ownership Rules?

The text of the FCC’s decision on the attribution of Joint Sales Agreements for multiple ownership purposes, and the termination of the 2010 Quadrennial Review of the ownership rules and the start of the 2014 Quadrennial Review, has now been released by the FCC.  In a slim 211 pages of text, plus another 24 pages of concurring and dissenting opinions, there is more than enough for broadcasters, lawyers and regulators to digest for weeks.  The Order addresses in detail the matters that had already been made public – the attribution of TV JSAs, the further examination of TV shared Services Agreements, and tentative decisions to not fundamentally change any of the Commission’s other ownership rules (with the possible exception of a favorable inclination to look at elimination of the radio-newspaper cross-ownership)(see our summary here).  But there are many details to be examined as to how the Commission reached the decisions that it did and the nuances of the decisions that were made (e.g. the waiver policy that would allow some JSAs to remain in place – the Commission’s decision does not provide much detail – essentially saying that they will grant waivers to deserving JSAs that serve the public interest, but providing little detailed guidance as to what would make a good waiver case, except to say that temporary or short-term waivers were better than long-term ones, and that ones where there was little sharing of other services are better than ones where there is more sharing).  We will cover all of these areas in more detail over the next few days.

But there were some interesting and less expected nuggets that popped out in a first read of the Order, and have not been much covered elsewhere.  For TV, these include the tentative decision to replace the TV Grade B contour with the digital Noise Limited Service Contour for determining whether an individual or entity can own two TV stations in the same market.  Instead of allowing ownership where the Grade B contours do not overlap, the Commission proposes to allow that ownership where the NLSC do not overlap, and to grandfather any combinations that would be affected by this rule change.  Similar small but significant issues were also raised for radio.
Continue Reading The Text of the FCC’s Order on JSAs and Other Broadcast Ownership Issues is Released – Part One, Hidden Nuggets on TV and Radio Market Definitions

The FCC today issued a Notice of Inquiry into the use of the Portable People Meter technology of radio audience measurement now being rolled out by Arbitron in radio markets throughout the country.  Several months ago, various groups petitioned the FCC for an inquiry into the PPM, contending that it has certain methodological flaws that undercounted particular groups, including minority groups, and thus could have an impact on the financial viability of the stations listened to by such groups (see our summary  of the petitions and the issues raised by these petitions).  The Notice of Inquiry asks about those perceived flaws, about the potential impact of any flaws on the use of Arbitron market definitions for purposes of the FCC radio multiple ownership rules, and on the more general question of whether the FCC even has the jurisdiction to regulate the use of the PPM.

Specific questions on which the FCC seeks comments include:

  • Does the use of this technology really undercount minority populations?
  • If so, what has been the impact on the economics of minority-formatted stations in markets where the system is in use?
  • Are there specific information gathering techniques that should be improved in the PPM system?
  • What has been the effect on the PPM system of settlements between Arbitron and the Attorneys General of several states – where Arbitron promised to change its sampling process?
  • What is the impact of Media Ratings Council accreditation for the PPM in certain markets, and its lack of accreditation in others?
  • Do the questions about PPM reliability have any impact on the use of Arbitron to define radio markets for FCC multiple ownership purposes?
  • What is the FCC’s jurisdiction to review Arbitron’s practices in connection with the PPM? 

Details of these questions can be found in the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry at pages 12-17.Continue Reading FCC Begins Formal Inquiry Into Arbitron PPM Audience Measurement