In 1995, there were 146 radio stations in America owned by African Americans. Today there are only about 68 remaining, according to The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters. What has happened to black ownership of radio stations?
How the law changed everything
Competition in anything can make or break businesses. That is basically what happened to black radio stations. Prior to 1996, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations ruled that it was not in the public’s best interest for any single entity to hold more than one broadcast license in the same community. Greater diversity in programming would come from a greater number of owners. The law remained that way until 1996.
In 1996, under President Bill Clinton, the law changed and allowed anyone to enter any communications business and allowed any communications business to compete in any market against each other. It was a total deregulation of the communications industry that had a devastating affect on black-owned communications businesses and radio stations.
Fierce competition drove many black-owned radio stations out of business
Now, broadcast companies can own an unlimited number of radio stations in any market. This resulted in massive consolidation of radio and television stations, making it very difficult for blacks to maintain a foothold in the communications industry. As the NABOB states, “African-Americans are woefully underrepresented in the ownership of broadcast stations.”