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“Sports”.  To maintain compatibility, for the March 2000 database each “News” or “Sports” entry was replaced by “News/Sports”.  Fourth, we note that the number of markets has increased again, from 268 in November 1998 to 276 in March 2000, and the percentage of stations assigned to markets has increased from 56 to 57 percent.2

Finally, BIA estimates revenue data annually for approximately 45 percent of the radio stations.  Most of the radio stations with missing revenue estimates are not assigned to Metro markets and are, therefore, not included in the analysis.  The radio stations with missing revenue estimates that are assigned to Metro markets are usually the low-rated stations in the market, and they earn a small share of the market's advertising revenues.  In order to include these stations in the analysis, zero values were assigned to the missing data.

With the above caveats in mind, the analysis of the radio industry follows.  The number of commercial radio stations has increased about 5.1 percent since March 1996.  As of March 2000, there were 10,779 commercial radio stations in the United States.3  Of these, about 56 percent (5,992) are FM stations and 44 percent (4,787) are AM stations.   While the number of radio stations has grown, the number of radio owners has declined by 6.7 percent from March 1996 to November 1997 (from 5,133 to 4,788 owners), by an additional 5.8 percent from November 1997 to November 1998 (from 4,788 to 4,512), and by another 11.2 percent from November 1998 to March 2000 (from 4,512 to 4,006).  As of March 2000, there were 4,006 owners of commercial radio stations across the nation, for a cumulative decline in the number of owners of 22 percent since March 1996.

The decline in the number of owners reflects a general continuation of the consolidation of the commercial radio industry that has occurred since the passage of the Telecom Act in 1996. In each of the last four years (1996-1999), about 20 percent of radio stations have changed hands. As a result of this trading activity, there are now 39 radio station owners with 20 or more

2  To ensure compatibility amongst different BIA databases, similar changes in previous years have required that the previously “out-of-market” stations be reassigned to markets for preceding years.  However, a detailed examination of the current database indicated that such reassignment was not necessary for the present database, though it may be necessary for future databases.  

(  The number of noncommercial FM stations increased from 1,828 in March 1996 to 2,066.  More detailed information on stations and owners is contained in the appendices.  In particular, Appendix A summarizes the changes in actual numbers of stations and owners.


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