Wednesday, December 19, 2007

PIC&N??? Plus Cell Phone Only Numbers

A couple of News highlights from this week:

Re-Regulation: The FCC is proposing new regulations on broadcasters that would force more localism, round the clock staffing, a return to citizen advisory boards and more coverage of news/politics. Some of the trades are claiming that the de-regulation pendulum is swinging back to more regulation. We've been in this de-regulation mode for over 20 years now in radio and many have forgotten the old days of the FCC.

They used to have a policy at the FCC where broadcasters had to operate in the Public Interest Convenience and Necessity - PIC&N. It looks like we are heading towards a return to those standards. In reality it's a good move for broadcasters. We need to get back in the business of being local champions if we are going to navigate through the new media and multi-platform fog. I suspect we'll see a lot of industry wide moves to push back on this change, but perhaps we should embrace it instead. It sort of reminds me of the U.S. auto industry fighting MPG standards only to watch imports move in and win a lot of market share with higher MPG cars. We are seeing industry after industry embracing 'green' and working harder on community image.

In programming we'd better start preparing to serve our communities better, even if the FCC doesn't push forward. But, in an election year and with lots of congress behind the movement for their own election sake we'd better start preparing now.

Cell Phones: We also got some other news from the govt. This time from the Center for Disease Control with a new study on cell phone only individuals. Yes, the CDC did the study because they collect data and just like our ratings systems they are struggling with polling the cell phone only individuals. You can read the USA Today report on the study here. The cliff notes version:

  • Cell Only Households - 14%
  • Cell and Land Lines - 59%
  • Land Line Only - 24%
  • 18-30s Cell Only - 30% and growing every day.

These numbers were compiled in the first 6 months of 07 so the cell only numbers will only be bigger when we get another report in 6 months.

Also in the news Arbitron has announced that they will FINALLY be trying to develop a plan to get to the cell phone only households. They are going to try and use an 'address based' sample and match up the addresses with the phone data then try and use the mail to reach out to the cell only folks and get permission to call them on their cell. The grand experiment starts in 08 and may be used in some markets in 09. By then we could see over 40% of the 18-30s being excluded from the sample and maybe 23% or more from the 12 plus population.

All of this doesn't take into account the people who don't pay attention to their land lines at all. They have one out of habit, but they have really converted to the cell phone for most of their communication. The land line is hooked up to an answering machine and call ID and unless they know who you are - it's off to voice mail land. We are not moving fast enough here - relying on the snail mail to help is going to be a slow process. We could pick up the pace if we could work on texting, emailing, and even reaching out more in the web world to gather more sample.

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