FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai spoke to the past, present, and future value of radio at a national gathering of radio broadcasters this week. At an address in Dallas before the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show, Commissioner Pai pointed out the immense value of radio in his own family’s past and then declared, “Now, I know that it’s trendy among some to dismiss broadcasting as a fading relic of the past…. But broadcasters have heard this tune before. In 1922, Thomas Edison famously said that ‘the radio craze will die out in time.’ …It’s now ninety years since he said it, and radio is still going strong. In fact, the way things look now, broadcast radio will easily outlive Edison’s incandescent light bulb.”
Commissioner Pai highlighted statistics about the current health of radio, including the fact that 93 percent of American adults listen to radio each week, average weekly listening is 14 hours, and more adults listen to radio than surf the Internet each day. He did note, however, decline in AM radio listenership, particularly striking in the 12-34 age demographic, among whom less than 10 percent of radio listeners tune in. Pai proposed that the FCC launch an “AM Radio Revitalization Initiative” next year to remove regulatory barriers to that sector.
On the subject of spectrum allocation, Commissioner Pai insisted that removing regulatory barriers to broadband deployment is significant, but that broadband should complement, not replace broadcast media. He asserted, “…if we were to shift all of the services provided by broadcasters to broadband, that would actually be counterproductive. It would make our spectrum problems worse, not better.”
Pai recognized that some perceive the FCC as indifferent to broadcasting, but he indicated that he cares and he wants to promote open communication.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations
Published: September 21, 2012