MMTC cites format study to call for FCC ownership study


A research effort by a college professor shows that the more radio stations there are serving a minority group, the more listening there is from that group. Further, the ethnicity of station ownership plays a role in the kind of programming it uses as a format. Minority Media and Telecommunications Council says it underscores the need for the FCC to collect more thorough ownership information.

The study came from Joel Waldfogel of the University of Minnesota, and it uses data about radio and ownership between 2005 and 2009.

Waldfogel noted that if ownership was the sole determinant of format, there would be very little Urban or Hispanic programming – since so few owners are members of those groups. He said that his study confirmed earlier reports on the topic. “As in the 1990s, most minority-owned stations target minority listeners, but — also as in the 1990s — most minority-targeted stations are not minority-owned.”

As for increasing the number of minority-targeted stations, Waldfogel said that the study showed that the presence of more choice brings more listeners into the pool of citizens using minority radio.

MMTC’s Ava L. Parker wrote, “The study provides an empirical basis for what many observers have known to be true — minority ownership matters to minority listeners. Simply put, more minority ownership results in more minority programming. The study also provides a call for action by the Federal Communications Commission and other policymakers charged with ensuring that broadcasters are responsive to the needs of all American listeners.”

Parker concluded, “The Commission has delayed gathering the data, and delayed taking meaningful action, far too long. As Waldfogel’s study shows, ownership matters. It is long past time for the FCC to recognize that fact, and act on it.”