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stations, compared to 25 in March 1996.4  Further, there continue to be changes in the composition of the top 50 radio group owners, generally reflecting mergers between companies that were previously among the top 50 radio owners.5 Also, the two largest radio group owners in 1996 consisted of fewer than 65 radio stations each.  As of March 2000, the two largest radio group owners consisted of more than 440 radio stations each, while the third, fourth and fifth largest held 240, 162, and 120, respectively.6  Thus, the decline in the number of owners of radio stations nationally reflects mergers or acquisitions between existing owners that has resulted in larger radio group owners and more group-owned stations.  

3.Changes in the Radio Industry - A Local View

This report now focuses on changes in the radio industry reflected in data at the Arbitron Metro level.  Arbitron, a nationally recognized radio audience research firm, has delineated 276 different local geographic areas, or Metros, to reflect the audiences reached by local radio stations.7 Arbitron Metros generally correspond to Metropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the U.S. Government.8  About 57 percent of all commercial radio stations are licensed to communities in the 276 markets.   The 276 radio markets consist of nearly 850 counties and represent more than one-fourth of all counties in the U.S.9  More than three-fourths of the U.S.

( See Appendix B.

5 See Appendix C.  

6  By the end of 2000, the two largest radio group owners merged, so that now Clear Channel Communications owns over 1,000 radio stations, and the second largest radio group owner has approximately 200 stations.

7  Arbitron Metro markets do not correspond to the Commission’s definition of a radio station’s market for the purposes of applying the Commission’s radio ownership rules.  See 47 CFR  § 73.3555(a).

(  The Office of Management and Budget designates and defines MSAs in 55 Fed. Reg., 12154-12160 (1990).  Generally, a Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of one or more counties that contain a city of 50,000 or more inhabitants, or contain a Census Bureau-defined urbanized area with a total population of at least 100,000.

(  There are 3,127 counties and independent cities in the U.S.  The 847 counties (including portions of counties) and independent cities in the Arbitron Metros make up 27 percent of all counties and independent cities.


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