The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 February 2005

Surrounding Goliath

The Fat Guy points to the Center for Public Integrity's MediaTracker gizmo, which lists all the broadcast stations within a designated radius (default is 40 miles) and who owns them.

It's not absolutely perfect, since it doesn't seem to pick up Local Marketing Agreements — for instance, KQOB (otherwise known as BOB FM) retains its Enid-based ownership, yet the Citadel chain actually programs it — but it's a useful tool, and TFG wants to emphasize this point:

Clear Channel, the unstoppable monolith, hold 6 of 57 radio licenses. Big. Dang. Whoop. I'm supposed to be frightened about that? Why?

In markets the size of Dallas-Fort Worth, nobody holds all the cards. Clear Channel is a major player in Oklahoma City, but they hardly dominate. When I start to worry is when I contemplate places like Minot, North Dakota, where Clear Channel owns six of nine radio stations. (Note: This link has been corrected.)

Posted at 7:34 AM to Overmodulation


When I start to worry is when I contemplate places like Minot, North Dakota, where Clear Channel owns six of nine radio stations.

One more of those, and Minot will be assimilated.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:50 AM on 18 February 2005

Your link shows 5 of 20. That is a little more egregious than Dallas anyway. I'd be interested in hearing how CC ended up with that many in a place as sparsely populated as Minot. That's gotta be a good story.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at 10:58 AM on 18 February 2005

That was my error: I originally looked up Grand Forks, ND, and copied the wrong link down. Minot is indeed 6 of 9.

The selection of Minot, of course, is hardly accidental.

Posted by: CGHill at 11:25 AM on 18 February 2005

I see.

You're an insider...any idea how CC got so deep in Minot?

FWIW, I clearly have no problem with CC and their practices. No reason the media shouldn't be subject to the same pressures as, say, the networking market I'm in. If diversity is truly a grail with some degree of holiness, The Gummint should be stomping on, say, Mr. Kroc or those Old Navy people.

If we want to complain about their poor taste in music, well -- get in line, bub. ;-) That's fair game.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at 9:38 AM on 19 February 2005

That's "Mr. Kroc's legacy", not the poor dead guy himself.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at 9:39 AM on 19 February 2005

As I understand things, the 1996 Telecom Act that rewrote the radio-ownership rules also came up with some quirky redefinitions of a radio market: the FCC's definition does not match, say, Arbitron's or Nielsen's. For some reason, the market that includes Minot extends nearly to Bismarck, about 100 miles away; of the 45 stations in that zone, Clear Channel owns 8, which is within the FCC spec. And there may be some sense to that, since when I drove through Minot last summer, I could pick up stations all through North Dakota, a couple of South Dakota stations, WCCO in Minneapolis, and a fair number of Canadian outlets as well.

Regarding the 2002 Minot derailing, CC maintains that the city's Emergency Alert System was not working properly and city personnel botched the job of getting the word to them.

Posted by: CGHill at 11:04 AM on 19 February 2005

city personnel botched the job

Knock me over with a feather.

Upon further consideration, I would expect Minot to work better than DF&W. The chances of a Moron landing the job are probably smaller.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at 9:28 PM on 19 February 2005