Terrestrial radio is under attack, and the FCC is forcing us to compete with one hand tied behind our back. While very few restrictions apply to any music streaming platform, terrestrial radio has many laws, rules, and guidelines that keep us at a competitive disadvantage.
According to an FCC federal document from March 31, 2014, the FCC concluded that internet radio, or other music streaming outlets, is a "national platform" and not a local competitor for broadcast stations. Huh!?
While the FCC couldn't be further removed from reality, we all know that consumer interest in digital audio platforms is increasing at an alarming rate, and is in fact, a major competitor.
Not much has changed to help traditional broadcast radio compete on a level playing field since the FCC released this document seven years ago. For example, terrestrial radio has a limit on how many signals we can have, restrictions on signal strength, transmitter rules and guidelines, studio rules and guidelines, a mandate to dedicate a certain percentage of our broadcast to our local community, and we are forced to keep a public file or be subject to a fine.
A terrestrial radio station can lose its broadcasting license at renewal time, must avoid obscene, indecent, and profane material or pay a healthy penalty, and are also required to offer equal opportunity to political candidates. We must abide by payola and plugola laws and even pay tens of thousands of dollars to a ratings service to "guess" at how we're performing, while our digital competitors can easily view streaming numbers for free.
If those aren't enough differences, terrestrial radio has specific contest rules to follow, we have to ID our station at the top of every hour, we're required to air and participate in the emergency alert system (EAS), and we have to pay licensing fees for music we air on our regular signal AND our stream. Shall I continue?
Thank you, FCC, for allowing us to use your airwaves, but please, help us create a business environment that will enable us to compete on equal ground.
Station Domination Radio Consulting Group would like to hear your thoughts and opinions. Please provide feedback below, or email Jeff Sanders at Sanders@StationDomination.com.