FCC 375

Like regulatory clockwork, every two years the Federal Communications Commission drafts a report that gives a state of the communications marketplace. Under federal law, that report must be published in the last quarter of every even-numbered year, like 2020. It must give an assessment of the audio, video, voice and data services market and report whether current laws and regulations pose barriers to new entrants into each of the sectors or limit current operators from expanding.

The FCC has begun collecting information for the 2020 report. Last week it issued a public notice seeking public comment on the various industries, including the audio programming marketplace. Critically, that includes more than just AM and FM radio. The agency is looking for information about satellite radio and digital services. “We also request comment on whether laws, regulations, regulatory practices, or demonstrated marketplace practices pose a barrier to competitive entry into the audio marketplace, or to the competitive expansion of existing providers,” the notice said.

The competition report may be used by the Commission to help support any proposed changes in media regulations as part of its current quadrennial ownership review if challenged in court. “Thus, even though there may not be imminent changes in the ownership rules that result from the report that the FCC will generate from the responses to this Notice, comments are still important,” broadcast attorney David Oxenford said in a blog post.

Among the areas where the FCC is specifically seeking feedback are:

  • Industry participants in the provision of audio programming services
  • Trends in service offerings, pricing, and consumer behavior
  • The extent of competition among audio marketplace participants, including competition between broadcast radio stations and how those stations are competing with satellite radio and digital services
  • Ratings, subscribership, and revenue information, for the marketplace as a whole and for individual industry participants
  • Capital investment, innovation, and the deployment of advanced technology
  • Requirements for entry into the marketplace
  • Recent entry into and exit from the marketplace

The information is being collected and compiled by the Office and Analytics (GN Docket No.20-60). The first round of comments is due April 13 with reply comments due by May 13.