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Restore the Public Interest to the Public Airwaves:

Rewrite Radio Ownership Rules!

Today, six giant multinational corporations now control all 14,000 radio stations in our country, almost all 6,000 TV stations, 80 percent of our newspapers, all of our billboards, and now most of the Internet information services. So you have six guys who dictate what Americans have as information and what we see as news. The news departments have become corporate profit centers. They no longer have any obligation to benefit the public interest; their only obligation is to their shareholders, and they fulfill that obligation by increasing viewership. Robert F. Kennedy, in a speech to the Sierra Club, September 10, 2005
The 1996 Telecommunications Act rewrote radio ownership rules to allow a handful of corporate giants to take over local radio. This hijacking of the radio airwaves is the reason why Rush Limbaugh and company dominate the public airwaves and the political discussion. It is the reason why Bill Clinton was impeached, why John Kerry was swiftboated, why George Bush was elected and why the Tea Parties have flourished. It is the reason why we as a nation are so polarized, why we shout at each other rather than debate with each other, and why we as a culture are growing accepting of hate radio which incites violence. It is why local bands can no longer get on the air, and why midwesterners can no longer get tornado alerts. It affects the quality of our news, our information, and the health and public safety of our communities. It is why local people have no say over the content provided by the very radio stations licensed to serve their interest, the public interest. In short, the 1996 Telecommunications Act has worn away the very fabric of America. It is time to restore discourse to the America the founding fathers envisioned by restoring local ownership to the publicly owned airwaves .

Congress is currently taking comments on rewriting the Communications Act to include New Media. Tell Congress to rewrite the Old Media radio ownership rules at the same time. Sue Wilson November 22, 2010

U.S. Talk Radio Programming

53 million people in the U.S. listen to Talk Radio.

(source: Arbitron Radio Today, 2009.)

50,000,000 40,000,000 30,000,000 20,000,000 10,000,000 0 Conservative Progressive

91% of Talk Radio Programs are Conservative.

(source: Structural Imbalance of Talk Radio, Center for American Progress and Free Press, 2007.)

Hours of Conservative v Progressive Talk Radio Aired Daily

3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Progressive Conservative

2,570 hours of Conservative Talk Radio are broadcast each weekday on these stations compared to 254 hours of Progressive Talk.
(source: Structural Imbalance of Talk Radio, Center for American Progress and Free Press, 2007.)

Conservative v. Progressive Ideas on the Public Airwaves 250 200 150 100 50 0 Airs No Progressive Ideas Airs Some Progressive Ideas

92 percent of talk radio stations do not broadcast a single minute of progressive talk radio programming.
(source: Structural Imbalance of Talk Radio, Center for American Progress and Free Press, 2007.)

Radio Reaches More than Any Media

100 80 60 40 20 0 % Americans reached by radio

Radio has the greatest penetration of any media (print, broadcast, or digital,) reaching 90 percent of Americans each week.
(source: Arbitron, Radio Today: How America Listens to Radio, 2007 edition, p. 3. Total percentages based on spring 2006 data)

Radio Reach Strong Despite New Media 100 80 60 40 20 0 2001 2008 Weekly Reach

Despite the availability of numerous new media alternatives, radios weekly reach has declined only modestly in the past several years, from 94.9% in Spring 2001, when the iPod was introduced, to 91% in Fall 08.
(source: Arbitron Radio Today, 2009)

Radio Listening Occurs Away from Home, Mostly in Cars

70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 % Radio Listening in cars or away from home % Radio Listening at Home

From 7AM to 7PM weekdays, more radio listening takes place away from home: accompanying listeners in the car, at work or some other location. Overall, 64% of weekday listening occurred out-of home. Commuters make up 44% of radio listeners.
(source: Arbitron Radio Today, 2009, Nielsen Media Research)

Conservative Talk Radio Dwarfs Fox News

Conservative Talk Radio Dwarfs FOX News

16,000,000 14,000,000 12,000,000 10,000,000 8,000,000 6,000,000 4,000,000 2,000,000 0 Hannity

Sean Hannity gets 2.5 million viewers on FOX News, but 14.25 Million listeners on Talk Radio. Glenn Beck gets 2.125 million viewers on FOX News, but 9 million radio listeners.
(source: Nielsen Media Research, Talkers Magazine, 3-2010)

Talk Radio FOX News


An estimated 48 million Americans listen to Conservative Talk Radio on various programs nationwide.

One Radio Show Equals Audience of Entire FOX News Primetime Lineup 20,000,000 15,000,000 10,000,000 5,000,000 0 Limbaugh Hannity Beck Savage Fox Primetime

Rush Limbaugh's radio audience alone is greater than the entire FOX News Primetime lineup combined. Stats reflect Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and Savage's radio audiences and FOX Cable TV audience. (Source: Talkers Magazine 3-2010, Nielsen Media Research, 7-2010)

Radio Ownership Limits 1934 - 1994

40 20 0 M xSta s a tion Allow d e

Early broadcasters were limited to owning just 3 AM and 3 FM stations nationwide. By 1994, that number had increased to 40.
13 14 18 19 19 94 99 94 92 94 6 1 4 2 4 3 6 4 0
(source: FCC )

Radio Ownership Limits 1994 - 1996 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 1994 1996

The 1996 Telecommunications Act allowed one person, corporate or individual, to buy thousands of radio stations, as many as eight in a single town. Clear Channel bought 1200; they are permitted by law to buy more.

Rise of Rush Limbaugh Post 1996 Telecommunications Act

600 500 400 300 200 100 0 1988 2000 Number of Stations Airing Rush Limbaugh

After the 1996 Telecommunications Act changed radio ownership rules, Rush Limbaugh went from about 56 stations to nearly 600 virtually overnight. Dozens of other Conservative Talkers followed.

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