Saturday, August 02, 2008


Giving “Choice” to a Captive Audience is bad for media behemoths:

The USA’s Biggest Radio monopolies are selling off stations, But sticking with their monopoly on billboards…

With the public turning to digital music players and podcasts, they can avoid the homogenized, ad-packed, junk-radio formats that litter the AM and FM dials in most cities. What they can’t miss, though, are the sky-blocking billboards owned by the same radio behemoths. During the late 1990’s, two corporations went on a deregulation-fueled radio and billboard buying spree. The two, CBS and Clear Channel, loaded up on debt to buy these speculation-steroid-enhanced properties. The results are mixed. CBS has done well, as it is insulated by its holdings in TV and publishing.

Clear Channel, on the other hand, which made its name in the early years of the Bush administration as the home of Rush Limbaugh and countless other right-wing radio hotheads, has lost a ton of someone’s (?) money. Their zeal to buy up radio stations led them to own over 1200 across the U.S. CBS, the next largest owner at its peak had 180 stations. Clear Channel reported losses totaling $21 billion in 2002 and 2005 due to the true value of their radio empire becoming evident, and they have sold off their 56 TV stations and are trying to sell off over 400 radio stations in smaller USA markets. Clear Channel was recently sold to several investment groups for $17.9 billion, after a $19.5 billion deal fell through.

With the economy in the dumper lately, a lot of the USA media are fighting themselves for market share—ah, yes, competition, we haven’t seen that for a while. As the internet has gobbled up ads from daily newspapers, we are seeing hard times for the daily papers that have largely served up corporate press releases to their readers masquerading as news.

Most important to the media monopolies is a “captive” audience. This is when we have over 100 cable channels available to us, but most of them are owned by the 5 media monopolies (CBS/Viacom, GE, Time-Warner, Fox and Disney). For daily newspapers, in most cities in the USA we have only one choice. For radio, the listeners and ad revenues are monopolized by CBS and Clear Channel, who each have 8 radio stations in L.A., for example. The big profit is in the audience having no alternative, and therefore, we are captive watchers or listeners. For example, when I tune into the 6 L.A. rock music stations, and a commercial block comes on, when I switch stations, guess what? They and all the other rock stations are playing commercials, too. Is this coincidence or collusion?

Thanks to my digital music player, I can pack my entire music collection in a little box. I really don’t miss the inane, pre-recorded chatter. I can always look away from the billboards, unless I’m stuck in the gridlocked traffic.

But that’s another rant…

---by Rex Frankel


CBS to sell 50 of its radio stations:,0,6157912.story

August 1, 2008

“The New York-based broadcasting company, controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone, said Thursday that it planned to sell 50 radio stations in a dozen mid-size markets as ad revenue continued to slide in a weak economy. The company's once-mighty radio division continued to produce static and a drag on the company's earnings…

…Just two years ago, CBS Radio boasted nearly 180 radio stations. It has since shed about 40 stations, and with the planned sale of 50 more, the company would cut its holdings to about 90 stations. Included on its roster are Los Angeles powerhouse AM stations KNX 1070 and KFWB 980.

Analyst Tom Taylor said CBS might look to sell stations in such markets as Sacramento, Riverside and Las Vegas to focus on big-market stations that produce greater revenue. The loss of Howard Stern, who defected to satellite radio, continues to be felt, he said.”

No comments: