Who Owns Your Local Media? Whoever it is, they likely own A LOT of it.

I just found this great media ownership tool put together by the Center for Public Integrity. It’s the “Well Connected” database of owners for all radio and TV stations in the US, broken down by geographic area. Just pop in your zip or city name and go. It even gives you a nifty little pie chart of radio station ownership, like this one for my locale, Champaign-Urbana, IL:

The Center for Public Integrity also just released a series of reports on ownership concentration in radio and determines that concentration is bad all over, including smaller and medium-sized markets, not just big urban markets like New York and Chicago.

The report on smaller radio markets says:

“…[A]mong the 25 metropolitan areas most dominated by a single radio broadcast company, only Florida’s Sarasota-Bradenton area cracks the list of 100 largest markets.

“Number one on the ownership concentration list is Mansfield, Ohio, where Clear Channel owns 11 of the metro area’s 17 radio stations. Second is Corvallis, Ore., and third is Albany, Ga. Of the 25 markets most heavily controlled by a single owner, Clear Channel is the top owner in 20 of them and Cumulus Media Inc. (the nation’s second largest owner of radio stations) controls five.

“According to the Center’s study, a single company owns nine or more stations in 34 different metropolitan areas. The limit for even the largest markets in the nation, including New York and Los Angeles, is eight stations. ”

The Center for Public Integrity says that all this radio concentration — much of it way surpassing the FCC’s current and new rules — happened as a result of FCC inaction and negligence:

“The Federal Communications Commission knew as far back as 1998 that the way it measured radio markets was deeply flawed and could lead to the creation of behemoths like Clear Channel Communications, but failed to act in the face of industry pressure and bureaucratic inertia.

“The result is a radio industry where Clear Channel and other radio broadcast companies own far more radio stations in individual markets across the United States than was intended by Congress, despite years of warnings by the FCC’s own staff. ”

It just goes to show that while media ownership regs are one method to hold back the media goliaths just a little bit, they’re far from foolproof. Regulations have to be both written well and enforced well, and loopholes, laziness and corruption abounds. The media system as a whole is broke and ownership regs are just a crazy glue solution.






3 responses to “Who Owns Your Local Media? Whoever it is, they likely own A LOT of it.”

  1. Jim Meadows Avatar
    Jim Meadows

    The pie-chart you display for the Champaign-Urbana looks right to me. But when I went to the “Well-Connected” database, it listed all 18 C-U area stations as being owned by “other”. Do you know what gives?

  2. Paul Avatar

    I think I know what’s up. I tried the “Radio stations by Metropolitan Statistical Area” and got the same result as you — with 100% “other.” The search I did was the “Search Ownership Database by Area.” I can’t post a link because it’s all javascripted, but try it out and you should get the same results.

  3. Radio ownership stats

    The Center for Public Integrity, a site dedicated to providing “investigative journalism in the public interest,” has a wonderful sub-site,…

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