Mays To Congress: Let Us Own More Free radio needs Congress to relax outdated restrictions on our operations… CLEAR CHANNEL is asking Congress once again to ease media ownership restrictions. CEO MARK MAYS, speaking to the PROGRESS AND FREEDOM FOUNDATION, said that the company would like new ownership rules to allow a single company to own 10 radio stations in markets of 60 stations or more and 12 stations in markets with 75 stations or more. Characterizing the terrestrial commercial radio business as “struggling” due to increased competition from new technologies, MAYS said “free radio needs Congress to relax outdated restrictions on our operations… Free radio is not asking for much more room,” noting that satellite radio can offer over 150 channels in every city while CLEAR CHANNEL can only offer 8. MAYS also cited Internet competition and said that while CLEAR CHANNEL is streaming and feels that it has to do so, “we are cannibalizing ourselves.”
One has to wonder what good a few more expensive stations will be when faced with, as Mark put it, 150 satellite radio channels in every market. But what’s even more interesting is Mark’s statement that “we are cannibalizing ourselves” by streaming Clear Channel’s stations.
In fact, it is this very fear that will invariably tie the hands of the largest radio groups from instituting the kind of change which is necessary in order to compete in the future.
If taking your best content and placing it multiple channels of distribution is self-cannibalizing, then you have a strong perceived incentive not to spread your valuable content around. Yet the less you spread around your strong content, the more vulnerable you become.
This is the sort of paradox that requires strong leadership and stronger leaders.
Draw your own conclusions.
In any event, it’s not “outdated legal restrictions” that will keep radio from competing, it’s outdated strategic practices.