Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mitt Who?

Mitt Romney's favorite Radio Station Owner is in Trouble

This is probably beating a dead horse, (as who remembers Mitt Romney now?), but I just learned that Romney's corporate buyout firm Bain Capital owns the US's largest radio station chain, Clear Channel, which has been the subject of my ire for years.

Clear Channel owns and distributes on its stations shows by right-wing hotheads like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and distributes Fox News in radio form. They're by far the largest of owner of radio stations in the USA and also are tops in Billboards. I've written a lot about their past antics here:
They have in recent years added liberal talk radio shows on some of their lower-rated outlets, so their reputation for being all right wingers has changed in recent years as they've realized that liberal talk sells ads, too.

As this column from my local paper says: "Bain Capitol, the majority owner following a 2008 buyout, must be mighty nervous right now. According to industry estimates and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Clear Channel has more than $16 billion of debt, declining revenues, declining cash flow, and a huge debt payment due relatively soon - with virtually no way to pay it.
This could be the beginning of the end for a company that, in my opinion, never deserved to exist."

Clear Channel is a prime beneficiary (and now a victim) of the US Congress's 1996 Telecommunications deregulation act, which allowed corporate monopolies to gobble up 8 or more radio stations in a market area, instead of the previous limit of 2. The law similarly allows ownership of 2 or more TV stations in a market when the previous limit was 1.

The problem for Clear Channel is they over-borrowed to bulk up on stations, computerized the formats and fired DJs and then faced the wrath of consumers who switched to ad-free ipods and other portable music players. That's when Romney's Bain Capital firm swooped in and bought the place at likely a bargain price. The firm has not recovered, though, and it lost over $400 million in 2012.

Not that Mitt is hurting due to this.

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