Can Consolidation Cure Radio’s Revenue Woes?

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By Renee Casis
Special to RBR+TVBR


NEW YORK — Could unlimited ownership of AM and FM radio stations be the answer to the myriad revenue challenges facing the radio industry?

That was a key question addressed during a lively discussion Thursday at the 34th Annual TV & Radio Financial Summit, held by S&P Global Market Intelligence. And, the answer may be intricately connected to an expected loosening of FCC ownership rules under the chairmanship of Ajit Pai.

 

For some radio industry executives, the handcuffs are on; they believe they have been chained by the Commission’s current ownership rules. Yet, the media world has changed since the 1990s, and in order to compete with the un-regulated digital media (i.e. Facebook and Alphabet’s Google), radio should also have less regulation.

Speaking during a panel devoted to the outlook for radio, and the forecast for mergers and acquisitions, revenue growth and cash flow improvement, Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley noted, “There are consolidation opportunities coming down the road.”

Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw took it a step further, summing up what most panelists had been alluding to throughout the day by noting, “There should be no rules on how many stations you can own in a market.”

Warshaw also called on the industry to up its game in the streaming audio arena.

“We have not taken advantage of what we have,” he said two weeks after the launch of “Satori,” a New York-DMA online radio station designed to appeal to an audience that has tuned out local radio yet desires a community connection through relevant hosts and music.

Speaking of the typical radio station’s audio stream, Warshaw added, “We’re running 20 commercials – or 16 or 17 – on our streams. The generation that needs to embrace streaming won’t tolerate it.”

Programmatic was also a hot topic with the panel.

New Entercom CFO Richard Schmaeling is bullish on it.

“The programmatic market is double the size of radio today, and we’re going to get a piece of that,” he said.

While there were no overt objections, there was a sense of cautiousness, stemming from the concern that radio not become commoditized.

Ms. Beasley also noted that radio needs to find better ways to show ROI to advertisers.

At the same time, Sugarloaf Rock Capital Managing Partner Drew Marcus spoke about radio’s long-lasting durability.

“Radio has always been competitive. Maybe that’s why radio is so resilient.”


Renee Casis may be reached [email protected]


4 COMMENTS

  1. Excuse me, but if you’re saying that extreme consolidation will cure radio’s woes, you’re out of your freakin’ mind. Radio’s woes were CAUSED by consolidation. The parallel that immediately comes to mind is, you’re being hit repeatedly in the head with a small hammer, causing a headache, and you decide the best way to get rid of the headache is by using a bigger hammer.

  2. Typical New York crap from foreign interest owning our countries frequencies. Consolidation is another word for controlling what is being broadcast from the communist dictators of the political parties who are being bribed by special interest. Just when reports come in that indicate the industry is stronger than ever. Then we have this crap come-up because certain people with to much money want to control the industry while the public is not informed. Sounds like the television market! Internet, yes, stations are already on the Internet.

  3. We all know what Consolidation does..and Iam talking about the “value” of radio to the advertiser. Example,
    large medium or small radio market owners just about”give away” the 5th or 6th station thats the looser in the
    group.Were are talking about THE RATE CARD(S).That takes away radio”value”. We all understand why they
    do it, to “suck up” every dollar they can !
    NO keep the caps as they are,and give other owners a shot.Buy the way these”foreign” radio stations are
    and have be advancing at a much faster than US Radio stations in the teck field ect.

  4. How can anyone seriously believe that further consolidation would solve radio’s financial issues! Even suggesting that shows how absolutely ignorant of the last 18 years these people must be. The only possible reason to consider this would be to eliminate the already depleted number of voices and ideas in the marketplace. The lesson to be learned from the past 18 years is that cookie-cutter formats from one region of the country are destined to bomb in 90 percent of the other markets they are tried. Local ownership and well run local stations with a tie to local communities are the only real viable alternative.

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