Would allowing operators to own more stations really open up the formats? I can’t say I’m that convinced that it would - I’d fear that you’d end up with stations competing for listeners less and have stations that basically run interference for others within their stables.
I think it’s in the regional areas where there is a real need for diverse voices - too much of the regional radio spectrum (geographically) is filled with the same content, it’s incredibly wasteful and treats listeners poorly. Simplifying the licence areas to be more regional than local and allowing additional player(s) may work.
There is a real missed opportunity with digital radio to have carved out bandwidth for new players with strict rules (maybe even format controlled too) to boost diversity of formats.
If you look at markets in North America (even small ones), where an operator has 5 or 6 stations they are all very distinct and different formats. Same in NZ. If someone has 5 or 6 stations in a market, they’re not going to have 2 of them targeting the same format. i.e. you’re not going to get 2 CHR or 2 classic hits stations.
What you generally get in the US/Canada is an operator will have one of each (CHR, Rock/classic rock, Classic Hits/oldies, Talk, Country, AC)
For example, in Chicago iHeart media operates:
Lite FM - soft AC
Rock 95.5 - mainstream rock
WGCI FM - hip hop/urban
WGRB AM - gospel music
KISS FM - CHR
V103 - urban adult contemporary/R&B
WVON AM - news talk
In the smaller market of Springfield, Illinois, one operator has 4 stations:
The Mix - Hot AC
Bob FM - Adult hits/classic hits
WFMB FM - Country music
WFMB - Talk/sport
To me that’s variety you will only get with one operator having 4 or more stations.
What we get here is multiple CHR/Hot AC stations, and multiple Classic Hits stations because the operators are limited to 2 stations.
I like your idea on regional areas, as there is a dire need to provide more variety there.
A lot of those markets also have significantly more stations available too which changes the dynamic. It would be brilliant if it worked, but I just cant see it working here - they could do it now on Digital Radio with the additional stations they can add, but the networks still play it relatively safe
Agree that some are larger markets but it works in smaller markets in North America too.
Look at the Sydney FM landscape, do you really think there would be 3 almost identical CHR/Hot AC (Nova, 2day,KIIS) stations if one operator owned 4 of the 6 stations? No way. If one operator had 4 of the 6 you would at least get 4 different formats - why would they duplicate any of their own and compete with themselves?
Look at the different formats provided by one operator in Auckland.
Yes this is what companies should be doing with DAB, but they’re not for various reasons, including low uptake of DAB. Although to be fair they are a little bit, with stations like Triple M Classic Rock and Country. If it was FM (and even AM) as in NZ it would be even more effective.
Harriet Power is returning to SCA from maternity leave on February 6, joining the Content Leadership Team in a new role as head of brand experience across the Hit and Triple M networks and LiSTNR, reporting to Cameron.
Stephanie Zalfelds has been appointed as brand experience director – national shows and events, reporting to Power. Zalfelds also has a long career working in SCA promotions. Zalfelds’ role is effective immediately.