Radio Consolidation Results In Big Job Losses
A new study released by the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) found that the vast majority of major U.S. cities has experienced both layoffs and lower wage growth within the radio profession, associated with the unprecedented consolidation of radio station ownership over the last decade. The study also shows that the job losses in radio impede federal policy mandates to promote localism and diversity in media.
“Consolidation in radio ownership hasn’t just homogenized music formats,” said Jenny Toomey, musician and executive director of the Future of Music Coalition. “It has devastated the broadcast profession and virtually eliminated the ability of radio stations to provide unique coverage of local news, music and community issues. Before the FCC moves forward to further loosen already weak ownership limits, it should understand the impact that deregulation has had on jobs and communities.”
The study found that the combined market share of the top four radio companies in each local market increased by an average of 14.3 percent between 1993 and 2004 across 265 markets. Cities with higher degrees of radio consolidation had greater job losses among news reporters and broadcast technicians from 1996 to 2003. Cities with higher degrees of radio consolidation experienced smaller wage growth for DJs and news reporters from 1996 to 2003.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 eliminated the cap on the number of radio stations one company, organization, or individual may own nationally, and loosened limits on ownership of stations within a single market. Radio companies claimed ownership limits prevented them from taking advantage of “economies of scale.”
The FMC study, entitled “The Employment and Wage Effects of Radio Consolidation,” found that, since 1996, as radio companies have consolidated, they have cut costs by centralizing some operations in distant markets, such as on-air DJs, programmers, reporters, and engineering or broadcast-technician jobs.