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Mergers, Station Entry, and Programming Variety in Radio Broadcasting


  • Steven T. Berry
  • Joel Waldfogel


Free entry into markets with decreasing average costs and differentiated products can result in an inefficient number of firms and suboptimal product variety. Because new firms and products draw their customers in part from existing products, concentration can affect incentives to enter as well as how to position products. This paper examines how product variety in the radio industry is affected by changes in ownership structure. While it is in general difficult to measure the effect of concentration on other factors such as the number of products and the extent of product variety, the 1996 Telecommunications Act substantially relaxed local radio ownership restrictions, giving rise to a major and exogenous consolidation wave. Between 1993 and 1997 the average Herfindahl index in major US media markets increased by almost 65 percent. Using a panel data set on 243 U.S. radio broadcast markets in 1993 and 1997, we find that concentration reduces entry and increases product variety. Our results are consistent with spatial preemption. Jointly owned stations broadcasting from the same market are more likely than unrelated stations - and more likely than jointly owned stations in different markets - to broadcast in similar formats.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven T. Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 1999. "Mergers, Station Entry, and Programming Variety in Radio Broadcasting," NBER Working Papers 7080, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7080
    Note: IO LE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Spence, 1976. "Product Selection, Fixed Costs, and Monopolistic Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 217-235.
    2. Kenneth L. Judd, 1985. "Credible Spatial Preemption," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(2), pages 153-166, Summer.
    3. Richard Schmalensee, 1978. "Entry Deterrence in the Ready-to-Eat Breakfast Cereal Industry," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 305-327, Autumn.
    4. Anderson, Simon P & de Palma, Andre & Nesterov, Yurii, 1995. "Oligopolistic Competition and the Optimal Provision of Products," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1281-1301, November.
    5. Steven T. Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 1999. "Free Entry and Social Inefficiency in Radio Broadcasting," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(3), pages 397-420, Autumn.
    6. Berry, Steven T. & Waldfogel, Joel, 1999. "Public radio in the United States: does it correct market failure or cannibalize commercial stations?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 189-211, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simon P. Anderson & Stephen Coate, 2000. "Market Provision of Public Goods: The Case of Broadcasting," NBER Working Papers 7513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Andrew Sweeting, 2010. "The effects of mergers on product positioning: evidence from the music radio industry," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(2), pages 372-397.
    3. Clarissa Yeap, 2006. "The Production Decisions of Large Competitors: Detecting Cost Advantages and Strategic Behavior in Restaurants," Working Papers 06-19, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    4. Maximilian Auffhammer & Richard T. Carson, 2009. "Exploring The Number Of First-Order Political Subdivisions Across Countries: Some Stylized Facts," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(2), pages 243-261.
    5. Waldfogel, Joel, 2003. " Preference Externalities: An Empirical Study of Who Benefits Whom in Differentiated-Product Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(3), pages 557-568, Autumn.
    6. Lisa George & Joel Waldfogel, 2000. "Who Benefits Whom in Daily Newspaper Markets?," NBER Working Papers 7944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L8 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services


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