- Clear Channel Communications
CC Media Holdings, Inc. Type Private Industry Entertainment, Advertising Founded 1972 Headquarters San Antonio, Texas, U.S. Key people Mark Mays, CEO & President Products Radio, Billboards Revenue $6.82 billion USD (2007) Net income $938.5 million USD (2007) Owner(s) Bain Capital
Thomas H. Lee Partners
Employees 18,115 full-time Website http://www.clearchannel.com
Clear Channel Communications, Inc. is an American media conglomerate company headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. It was founded in 1972 by Lowry Mays and Red McCombs, and was taken private by Bain Capital LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP in a leveraged buyout in 2008. Clear Channel specializes in radio broadcasting, concert promotion and hosting, and fixed advertising in the United States through its subsidiaries. After 21 years, Mark Mays stepped down as President and CEO of Clear Channel on June 23, 2010. Mays will remain as Chairman of the Board, a position he has held for a year prior. The Board has engaged Egon Zehnder International, a leading executive search firm, to lead the search for a new CEO.
Clear Channel is the largest owner of full-power AM, FM, and shortwave radio stations and twelve radio channels on XM Satellite Radio, and is also the largest pure-play radio station owner and operator. The group was in the television business until it sold all of its TV stations to Newport Television in 2008.
The term "clear channel" comes from AM broadcasting, referring to a channel (frequency) on which only one station transmits. In U.S. and Canadian broadcasting history, "clear channel" (or class I-A) stations had exclusive rights to their frequencies throughout most of the continent at night, when AM stations travel very far due to skywave. WOAI in San Antonio, Clear Channel's flagship station, was such a station.
Clear Channel Communications purchased its first FM station in San Antonio in 1972. The company purchased the second "clear channel" AM station WOAI in 1975. In 1976, the company purchased its first stations outside of San Antonio. KXXO AM and KMOD FM in Tulsa were acquired under the name "San Antonio Broadcasting" (same as KEEZ). Stations were also added in Port Arthur, TX (KPAC-AM-FM from Port Arthur College) and El Paso, TX (KELP AM (now KQBU AM) from John Walton, Jr.). In 1992, the U.S. Congress relaxed radio ownership rules slightly, allowing the company to acquire more than 2 stations per market. By 1995, Clear Channel owned 43 radio stations and 16 television stations. In 1996, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 became law. This act deregulated media ownership, allowing a company to own more stations than previously. Clear Channel went on a buying spree, purchasing more than 70 other media companies, plus individual stations.
In a few cases, following purchase of a competitor, Clear Channel was forced to divest some of its stations, as it was above the legal thresholds in some cities. In 2005, the courts ruled that Clear Channel must also divest itself of some "border blaster" radio stations in international border cities, such as the alternative rock radio station 91X in Tijuana, Baja California/San Diego.
In 1998 it made its first move outside of the United States when it acquired the leading UK outdoor advertising company More Group plc which was led by Roger Parry; Clear Channel went on to buy many other outdoor advertising, radio broadcasting, and live events companies around the world, which were then re-branded Clear Channel International. These included a 51% stake in Clear Media Ltd. in China.
R. Steven Hicks and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst began Capstar Broadcasting in 1996 and a year later had become the largest owner of radio stations in the country, with 243 stations in all. In August 1997, Capstar and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst announced plans to acquire SFX Broadcasting Inc., with the resulting company owning 314 stations in 79 markets and ranking as the third-largest radio group by income. A year later, Chancellor Media Corporation and Capstar Broadcasting Corporation announced a merger which would result in Chancellor Media owning 463 stations in 105 markets once the deal was completed in second quarter 1999. Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst owned 59 percent of Capstar, with 355 stations in 83 markets, and was the largest single owner of Chancellor (which had 108 stations in 22 markets), with 15 percent of the stock. Chancellor Media later became AMFM Inc., which was acquired by Clear Channel in a deal announced October 3, 1999 and valued at $17.4 billion. The resulting company would own 830 radio stations, 19 television stations, and over 425,000 outdoor displays in 32 countries.
In 2005 Clear Channel Communications split into three separate companies. Clear Channel Communications was a radio broadcaster; Clear Channel Outdoor was out-of-home advertising; and Live Nation was live events. The Mays family remained in effective control of all three, and held key executive roles in each (with Mark Mays as CEO of both radio and outdoor and Randall Mays as Chairman of Live Nation).
On November 16, 2006, Clear Channel announced plans to go private, being bought out by two private-equity firms, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners for $18.7 billion, which is just under a 10 percent premium above its closing price of $35.36 a share on November 16 (the deal values Clear Channel at $37.60 per share). The new ownership of Clear Channel has also announced that all of its TV stations were for sale, as well as 448 radio stations that were outside of the top 100 markets. All of the TV stations and 161 of the radio stations were sold to a Providence Equity Partners, a private-equity firm, on April 23, 2007, pending FCC approval.
On July 24, 2008, Clear Channel held a special shareholder meeting, during which the majority of shareholders accepted a revised $36-per-share offer from Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners. The company announced on July 30 that it would offer shareholders either $36 in cash or one share of CC Media Class A common stock for each share of Clear Channel common stock held.
In early 2010 it was announced that the company was facing bankruptcy due to its "crippling debt."
In November 2010 Clear Channel Radio announced a multi-platform campaign with the USO as part of a National Community Engagement campaign.
Clear Channel has purchased interest in, or outright acquired, companies in a number of media or advertising related industries. This is not an exhaustive list.
With 850 stations, Clear Channel is the largest radio station group owner in the United States, both by number of stations and by revenue. According to BIA Financial Network, Clear Channel Radio recorded more than $3.5 billion in revenues in as of 2005[update], $1 billion more than the number-two group owner, CBS Radio.
Clear Channel has purchased stations from or acquired the following radio companies:
- The Ackerley Group
- Capstar (also operating under Gulfstar, Southern Star, and Atlantic Star)
- Clark Broadcasting
- Dame Media
- Eastern Radio Assets
- Quad City
- ION Media Networks
- Taylor Broadcasting
- Trumper Communications
- SFX Radio
- Mondosphere Broadcasting
Clear Channel Outdoor is an advertising company owned by Clear Channel Communications.
- Bought Eller Media, Universal Outdoor, and More Group Plc, giving Clear Channel outdoor advertising space in 25 countries.
- Owns part of an Italian street furniture company, Jolly Pubblicita S.p.A.
- Owns BBH Exhibits, Yellow Checker Star Cab Displays, Dauphin, Taxi Tops, Donrey Media, and Ackerley Media. Also owns an outdoor advertising company in Switzerland and Poland and a major outdoor advertising firm in Chile.
- Has a partnership with APN Outdoor in Australia, which has resulted in a 49% share in Adshel, a street furniture advertising company. APN Outdoor is the majority shareholder (owning 51% of Adshel).
- Operates over 500 digital billboards in 32 markets.
The first television station Clear Channel purchased was WPMI in Mobile, Alabama in 1988. It owned more than 40 additional stations, a few of which are independent (non-network affiliates). In 2007, the company entered into an agreement to sell all its television stations to Providence Equity Partners for $1.2 billion, a deal which eventually closed in March, 2008. All former Clear Channel television stations are now owned by Newport Television, except for six stations then flipped to other buyers by Newport.
On December 21, 2005, Clear Channel completed the spin-off of Live Nation, formerly known as Clear Channel Entertainment. Live Nation is an independent company (NYSE: LYV) and is no longer owned by Clear Channel. Live Nation UK was also included in the spin off.
Note that post-spinoff, there is overlap the board between Clear Channel and Live Nation, specifically: L. Lowry Mays, Mark P. Mays (Former Vice Chairman of Live Nation), and Randall T. Mays (Former Chairman of Live Nation).
News and information
- Operates Clear Channel News Network and local news networks in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida
- Premiere Radio Networks
- FOX Sports Radio Network
- Acquired and later sold the Agri Broadcast Network (ABN), a farm programming provider in Ohio
- Publishes "Inside Radio" magazine - www.insideradio.com
- Clear Channel Traffic reports on road and traffic conditions across the United States, and in Mexico City, Mexico; these are used by many GPS navigation systems.
- Fan Radio Network a sports radio network that serves Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Flagship station is KFAN in Minneapolis, MN
- Your Smooth Jazz, 24-hour smooth jazz network provided under the company's "Broadcast Architecture" division
- Owns part of radio groups in New Zealand, Mexico, Norway, and Australia
- Owns outdoor advertising companies in Singapore, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Romania, Poland, Chile, Brazil, Finland, Mauritius and Italy
- Owns L & C Outdoor Comunicacao Visual Ltda., of Brazil
- Owns the only airport advertising contract in South America
- United Kingdom
- Large numbers of billboards (through a takeover of Adshel)
- See Clear Channel UK
- Operates urban bicycle sharing systems in several European cities:
- Norway - Oslo : Oslo Bysykkel ; Drammen : Drammen Bysykkel ; Trondheim : Trondheim Bysykkel - www.adshel.no
- Spain - Barcelona : Bicing - 6,000 bikes in 400 stations - www.bicing.com.
- Sweden - Stockholm : Stockholm City Bikes, 1,000 bikes in 80 stations - www.stockholmcitybikes.se
- Italy - Milan : bikeMi, 1,300 bikes in 103 stations - www.bikemi.com
Vertical Real Estate
In 2003, Clear Channel created the Vertical Real Estate division and hired Scott Quitadamo to promote its tower portfolio. Clear Channel owns and operates approximately 1,500 broadcast transmission towers across the US. many of which are available for co-location by third parties such as cellular and PCS companies, wireless internet, fixed wireless, and other broadcasters.
Current members of the board of directors of Clear Channel Communications are: Alan Feld, Perry Lewis, Lowry Mays, B.J.(Red) McCombs, Phyllis Riggins, Theodore Strauss, J.C. Watts, and John H. Williams.
Tom Hicks and Vernon Jordan were formerly members of Clear Channel's board of directors. Jordan was a close friend and advisor to President Bill Clinton and was accused of lying to investigators during the investigations into perjury and obstruction of justice charges against Clinton. Hicks, Clear Channel's former vice-chairman, is a past donor to George W. Bush's political campaigns and a close associate of the Bush family. Hicks is the founder of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, the private-equity firm which funded many of Clear Channel's antecedent companies, including most significantly CapStar, Chancellor Media and AM-FM, Inc..
- Lowry Mays
- company founder, chairman;
- Mark Mays
- son of Lowry Mays, chief executive officer, president and chief operating officer;
- Randall Mays
- son of Lowry Mays, executive vice president and chief financial officer;
- John Hogan
- chief executive officer of Clear Channel radio
Programming on Clear Channel radio stations
Clear Channel operates the country's largest syndication service, Premiere Radio Networks. In addition, Clear Channel syndicates a number of its homegrown talk and music shows without the aid of Premiere. While Premiere actively sells its shows to stations, the non-Premiere syndicated shows are often used as a cost-cutting measure and do not have a large sales staff. Those shows also do not carry network-wide advertising (unless distributed by a third party), and allow the affiliates to keep all local spots, which increases their appeal. These networks carry many program hosts of various political ideologies and distribute a variety of programs to both Clear Channel-owned and non-Clear Channel-owned stations.
In addition to its own syndication network, Clear Channel offers studio space and other services to the WestStar TalkRadio Network, which is based at Clear Channel's studios in Phoenix, Arizona. As a result, many WestStar programs are heard on Clear Channel stations.
Not all programming heard on Clear Channel's radio stations are produced in house; however, most of Clear Channel's stations share many similarities to each other in branding and programming.
Format Lab and HD2 Formats
The Format Lab is a think tank run by Clear Channel that produces over eighty channels of programming, varying from mainstream formats to the highly experimental. These channels are heard on most of Clear Channel's HD Radio subchannels on its stations across the country in a commercial-free format.
iheartradio is a interactive media social networking platform outlet to aggregate local radio brands, personalities and on-demand content including photos, videos and more.
Urban, urban AC and rhythmic stations
Stations that carry programming catering to black Americans are a big part of many Clear Channel clusters, particularly Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit. In many clusters Clear Channel has two or more such stations. About half the Urban stations focus on Rap and Hip Hop along with younger R & B sounds. The other half blend some younger R & B along with some Soul from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s along with some current product. Some of the Hip Hop based Urban stations report as Rhythmic Top 40 stations rather than Urban stations because these stations also have some appeal to white and Hispanic listeners. In a cluster with multiple urban stations owned by Clear Channel, one is focused on Rap while the other is focused on Soul. Examples include Philadelphia, with WUSL's focus on hip hop while WDAS-FM focuses on Soul (in addition, the company also owns a rhythmic AC station in that area, which is WISX 106.1), and Chicago, where WGCI-FM focuses on rap while WVAZ is focused on Soul. Clear Channel urban, urban AC or rhythmic stations are branded as "Beat" (KTBT Tulsa, WBTP Tampa & WIBT Charlotte) or "Power" (WWPR New York City, WUSL Philadelphia & WPHR Syracuse). But for San Francisco, Clear Channel owns more urban-related stations such as rhythmic top 40 KYLD, urban oldies KISQ and urban contemporary KMEL in that area, and the same happened in Detroit, where the company also owns urban AC WMXD, urban contemporary WJLB and rhythmic AC WDTW-FM.
For rhythmic AC stations, they used to have the "Party" branding (particularly during the time when most used Wake Up With Whoopi as their morning show), but the two "Party" stations in Denver (KPTT) and Las Vegas (KPLV) have since exited the rhythmic AC format. KPTT and KPLV moved to top 40, but continue to use the "Party" branding. All Clear Channel rhythmic AC stations are now differently-branded per station.
News talk stations
News talk stations owned by Clear Channel usually have a standard slate of hosts. The morning show is usually local, with other timeslots filled by local and syndicated hosts. Programs that appear on many Clear Channel talk stations include the Glenn Beck Program -- getting his talk show start at Clear Channel owned WFLA (AM) in Tampa, The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Sean Hannity Show, America Now with Andy Dean and Coast to Coast AM, all of which are affiliated with Premiere Radio Networks in some fashion. The Savage Nation (which was until September 2009 flagshipped at Clear Channel's KNEW-910), The Mark Levin Show and The Dave Ramsey Show are non-Premiere shows who air on many (if not most) Clear Channel stations. Limbaugh is almost universally carried on Clear Channel stations in markets where the company has a news talk station, with the exception of markets such as Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA, where ABC Radio (which previously was Limbaugh's home network) has a news talk station in the market. New Clear Channel talk radio stations have typically been using the branding "Rush Radio," while most older ones use a more generic "News Radio" or "News Talk."
While most of Clear Channel's news/talk stations carry some combination of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage and Noory (of Coast to Coast AM), this is not always the case. Many stations (particularly in the larger markets) like KFI, KFYI, KOA, WZZR and WLW broadcast a lineup with significant local programming.
Clear Channel does not operate any all-news radio stations. For a brief time in the late 2000s, KFXR in Dallas ran a direct feed of HLN under the on-air name CNN 1190, but KFXR dropped that format in 2009. Almost all of Clear Channel's primary talk stations are affiliated with Fox News Radio for national news, part of a multi-year deal between Clear Channel and Fox.
Liberal talk radio is heard on a few of Clear Channel's stations, primarily secondary to its main news talk stations, and usually feature at least one local host with Dial Global programming; Air America Radio also aired on these stations. Clear Channel has shown a tendency to drop liberal talk affiliations whenever possible and replace it with satellite Fox Sports talk (see, for instance, WCKY, WARF, KLSD, WXKS [which currently runs the Clear Channel conservative talk format instead], and WINZ); this has, in a few rare circumstances, caused protests, such as those involved when Clear Channel wanted to make the same move with WXXM in Madison, Wisconsin (WXXM was eventually allowed to keep its liberal format).
Sports talk stations
Most sports talk stations owned by Clear Channel are affiliated with Fox Sports Radio and carry The Jim Rome Show; Fox Sports Radio has recently picked up The Dan Patrick Show. They are usually branded either Fox Sports or The Sports Animal.
Most of Clear Channel's adult standards stations are turnkey operations, running a direct feed of a satellite format such as Dial Global's America's Best Music or Music of Your Life. Most of these stations have no local jocks or Web sites.
Clear Channel's adult contemporary stations are often branded as "Lite FM" (i.e. WLIT in Chicago, WLTW in New York, or WLYT-FM in Charlotte) or "Sunny", although some stations use "Magic," "Star" or something else similar as their identifiers. Evenings are usually filled with Delilah, unless that show is already aired by another station, in which case the John Tesh Radio Show is often substituted. Automated programming is the next option for the 7PM- 12 AM timeslot. Your Weekend with Jim Brickman and the in-house American Top 40 the 1970s (or 1980s) with Casey Kasem are popular weekend syndicated programs on Clear Channel stations. Most AC stations air Christmas music from the last week of November to Christmas Day. Some AC Clear Channel stations are almost famous for playing Christmas music as early as November 1 such as KOSY-FM in Salt Lake City or WLYT-FM playing its first Christmas song of the season 2–3 weeks before Thanksgiving. 2/3 of CC stations that play Adult Contemporary air Christmas formats.
Hot adult contemporary stations are usually branded as "Mix," even though a Cleveland radio station (WMVX) branded as "Mix" carried an AC format instead. As of January 3, 2011, that station is now known as 106.5 The Lake (format similar to Jack FM. Some Hot AC stations lean modern rock while others lean toward adult rock. Other Hot AC stations have other brandings such as "Wild 105.7 and 96.7" on WWVA-FM.
Contemporary hit radio
Clear Channel's CHR stations are usually branded as KISS FM (e.g., KIIS Los Angeles, KBKS Seattle, WAKS Cleveland, WFKS Melbourne), Z (e.g., WHTZ New York, KKRZ Portland, WZFT Baltimore), Wild (e.g., WLDI West Palm Beach, KYLD San Francisco), Channel (e.g., WKQI Detroit, WHQC Charlotte), or Hot (e.g., WIHT in Washington, DC). Also other CHRs are branded as "Hit Music Now" such as WMKS Greensboro, NC or as "Radio Now" such as (WRNW Milwaukee, WNWW Jacksonville, KWNW Crawford-Memphis, AR/TN, WNRW Louisville). Q: (WIOQ-Philadelphia-102.1 FM-Q102), B (B 104 Allentown-Reading PA 104.1 FM), FM: (FM 97 96.9 FM Lancaster-Reading), Variety: (Variety 97.7/99.7 Williamsport, Lock Haven, PA), Max: (Max 106.3 Sussex), KC: (KC 101, 101.3 FM, Hamden-New Haven,CT-Long Island,NY) Some have other branding, however, if the name to the format is owned by another company.
There are syndicated morning shows, Such as Florida's MJ Morning Show), especially in smaller markets, Elvis Duran Morning Show based out of WHTZ's New Jersey/New York's Z100, JohnJay & Rich based out of KZZP Phoenix, AZ, or Matty In The Morning based out of WXKS-FM Boston, Kidd Kraddick In The Morning based out of KHKS in Dallas/Fort Worth. Middays (on the East Coast) on CHR stations have On Air with Ryan Seacrest.
On weekends, syndicated programming airs on the format such as FOX All-Access, Open House Party, American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest, Backtrax USA: the 90s with Kidd Kelly, Dawson McAllister Live, and (aired on a few stations in small markets) Rick Dees' Weekly Top 40.
Country music stations owned by Clear Channel usually carry Blair Garner in overnights (and occasionally evenings), and many (although not all) carry Big D and Bubba in morning drive. There is no unified branding of Clear Channel's country stations.
Oldies and Classic Hits
Clear Channel's Oldies station consists largely of FM stations with some AM stations. Clear Channel uses brands such as "Big" and "Kool" on many of its stations. Nearly all of the FM stations play oldies spanning from 1964 to 1975, with a 500 song active playlist split nearly half 1960s and half 1970s. The playlist also includes approximately a dozen pre 1964 tracks and around 50 songs from the late 1970s and early 1980s. These stations generally have a few local live announcers; much of the time these stations are voicetracked either locally or from another market. Most run syndicated programming on weekends, such as Dick Bartley or Mike Harvey on Saturday nights, Steve Goddard's programs (Goddard's Gold and/or The 70s), and recently, Casey Kasem's American Top 40: The 70s. A handful of Clear Channel's outlets have picked up syndicated weeknight fare, such as Mike Harvey, Marty Thompson or Tom Kent.
The AM oldies stations' playlists skew somewhat older and span from 1955 to about 1975. About 60 percent of the time they play 1964 to 1969 oldies, 20 percent pre 1964 oldies, and 20 percent music from the 1970s. Some of these also run Dick Bartley or Mike Harvey on Saturday nights. Some of the AM stations also run adult standards several hours on the weekend as well as limited specialized programming focusing on the pre 1964 era. Most of the AM stations are in smaller markets.
These stations tend to play a blend of new rock and harder classic rock. Some carry Nights with Alice Cooper in the evenings. These stations tend to be live during the day and voicetracked at night. Some stations run Rockline with Bob Coburn and/or Little Steven's Underground Garage as well.
While Clear Channel classic rock stations operate under a wide variety of monikers, many are branded as "The Fox". Often, these stations will carry Bob and Tom in morning drive. In the Southern United States, John Boy and Billy is carried instead in most cases. (Both of the aforementioned shows are syndicated by Premiere.) Starting with WQBW Milwaukee (which has since switched to another format) and WBWR Columbus, several Clear Channel stations have adopted an 80's-centered classic rock approach called "The Brew."
In a few markets Clear Channel has an FM station carrying Hispanic programming full-time. In some markets the format is a Contemporary Tropical format while in others the format carried is more of a Mexican format. In a few markets a Clear Channel FM station carries a rap based Spanish format known as Hurban, which blends Spanish dance music with R & B hits as well as some Hip Hop. The division is run by Spanish radio executive Alfredo Alonso, who joined Clear Channel in September 2004 as Senior Vice President Hispanic Radio.
In a few markets, Clear Channel has a religious station on the AM band. Some of these sell blocks of time to outside organizations and have no local shows at all except where local churches buy time. These are formatted similarly to Salem Media stations.
The other type of religious format Clear Channel uses in a few markets is a Gospel music based format. On these stations Gospel Music appealing to black Americans airs most of the time along with some block programming sold to religious groups. These stations are often programmed as urban stations that happen to be religious.
Clear Channel syndicated programs
Clear Channel Sale
On Friday, November 17, 2006, Clear Channel announced that it was going private and selling off almost one-third of its radio assets, according to The Washington Post and DHM. The buyers, led by Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners, agreed to pay $26.7 billion for the company. In a separate transaction also announced on November 16, 2006, Clear Channel said it would seek buyers for all of its television stations and 539 of its smaller radio stations, presumably because the private-equity buyers are not interested in owning television or small-market radio. Over a hundred stations have already been assigned to Aloha Station Trust, LLC upon the consummation of the merger. The television stations were ultimately sold to Newport Television.
On September 25, 2007, the shareholders approved of the buyout, allowing Clear Channel to proceed with being taken private, ending 35 years as a public company.
Setbacks and cost-cutting
Due to the recent credit market crunch of 2007, Clear Channel has ended up with rejected sales of its radio stations. Clear Channel's attempt to sell off over 100 stations to GoodRadio.TV, LLC was rejected by the equity firm backing the deal. The deal has since shifted to Frequency License LLC, but has yet to resolve itself as the two parties are engaged in lawsuits. On top of that, the sale of Clear Channel's television portfolio to Newport Television had also turned uncertain, as parent company Providence Equity Partners considered other options, although this transaction was ultimately completed.
On December 4, 2007, Clear Channel announced that they had extended the termination date of the merger from December 12, 2007, to June 12, 2008. The buyout finally closed in July 2008. The company, which has laid off thousands of employees in recent years, announced that it would move to more centralized programming and lay off 1,500 employees, or approximately 7% of its workforce, on January 20, 2009. The reasoning was bleak economic conditions and debt from its transition to a private company. Later on January 20, the company said that the total count of employees to be terminated would be 1,850, or 9%.
Between January and May 2009 Clear Channel eliminated 2,440 positions. On May 20, 2009, Clear Channel announced an initiative to help its radio station listeners who are seeking employment to market their skills and unique features on the air to attract the attention of employers with available positions.
Criticism of Clear Channel
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the company became an object of persistent criticism. FCC regulations were relaxed following the Telecommunications Act of 1996, allowing companies to own far more radio stations than before. After spending about $30 billion, Clear Channel owned over 1,200 stations nationwide, including as many as seven stations in certain markets. Although "media reform" social movement organizations like Future of Music Coalition mobilized against Clear Channel, so far the company has been able to hold on to all of its stations after divesting a few following the acquisition of AMFM, although over 500 stations have since been sold or are in the process of being sold since the company announced plans to become privately held.
September 11, 2001
Following the September 11 attacks on New York and The Pentagon, radio stations circulated a list of songs that were deemed inappropriate for broadcast during the time of national mourning following the attacks. A small list was initially generated by the Clear Channel office on Thursday, September 13, 2001, though individual program directors added many of their own songs. A list containing about 150 songs was soon published on the Internet. Some critics[who?] suggested that Clear Channel's political preferences played a part in the list. A number of songs were apparently placed on the list because they had specific words such as "plane", "fly", "burn," and "falling" in their titles. Clear Channel denies that this was a list of banned songs, claiming it was a list of titles that should be played only after great thought. Also WOFX, Cincinnati, owned by Clear Channel at the time continued to play songs that were on the alleged list, even though radio headquarters was in Cincinnati at the time. Songs on the list included Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'", Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" and the entire Rage Against the Machine discography.
Live music recordings
In 2004, Clear Channel acquired a key patent in the process of producing Instant Live recordings, in which a live performance is recorded directly from the sound engineer's console during the show, and then rapidly burned on CD so that audience members can buy copies of the show as they are leaving the venue. This had been intended to provide additional revenue to the artist, venue, and promoter, as well as stifle the demand for unauthorized bootleg concert recordings made by audience members. However, some media critics, as well as smaller business rivals, believed that Clear Channel is using the patent (on the process of adding cues to the beginning and ending of tracks during recording, so that the concert is not burned as a single enormous track) to drive competitors out of business or force them to pay licensing fees, even if they do not use precisely the same process. The patent was transferred to Live Nation when Clear Channel Entertainment was spun off, but the patent was revoked on March 13, 2007, after it was found that this patent infringed on a prior patent granted for Telex.
Indecency zero tolerance
During the nationwide crackdown on indecent material following the 2004 Super Bowl, Clear Channel launched a "self-policing" effort, and declared that there would be no "indecent" material allowed on the air. This led to the company's dismissal of several of their own employees, including popular and high-profile hosts in a number of cities. Free-speech advocates cried foul. During this same period, Howard Stern was dropped from six Clear Channel owned stations in Florida, California, Pennsylvania, New York and Kentucky. By mid-year, rival Viacom (through radio division Infinity Broadcasting) brought Stern's show back to those six markets. In June, 2004, Viacom/Infinity Broadcasting Inc./One Twelve Inc. filed a $10 million lawsuit against Clear Channel for breaking of contracts and non-payment of licensing fees due to the dropping of Stern's show. (Viacom was Howard Stern's employer at the time, though he has since moved to Sirius Satellite Radio). The following July, Clear Channel filed a countersuit of $3 million.
In the early 2000s, Clear Channel settled a lawsuit with a Denver, Colorado concert promoter, Nobody In Particular Presents (NIPP). In the lawsuit, NIPP alleged that Clear Channel halted airplay on its local stations for (NIPP) clients, and that Clear Channel would not allow NIPP to publicize its concerts on the air. The lawsuit was settled in 2004 when Clear Channel agreed to pay NIPP a confidential sum.
Reluctance to produce local programming
Clear Channel uses the Prophet Nex-Gen automation system throughout their properties. Like most contemporary automation systems, Nex-Gen allows a DJ from anywhere in the country to sound as if he or she is broadcasting from anywhere else in the country, on any other station. A technological outgrowth of earlier, tape-based automation systems dating back to the 1960s, this method — known as voice-tracking — allows for smaller market stations to be partially or completely staffed by "cyber-jocks" who may never have visited the town from which they are broadcasting. This practice may also result in local on-air positions being reduced or eliminated. It has been stated the Clear Channel maintains a majority of its staff in hourly-paid, part-time positions. Not all radio stations use Prophet; there are other systems available for broadcasters, especially when satellite-based programming is used.
Lack of local staff during emergency
Clear Channel was criticized for a situation that occurred in Minot, North Dakota on the morning of January 18, 2002. At around 2:30 a.m., a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed and leaked 240,000 US gallons (910,000 L) of toxic anhydrous ammonia, releasing a cloud of caustic, poisonous gas over the city. At the time, Clear Channel owned six commercial radio stations out of nine in the Minot area. City officials attempted to contact the local Clear Channel office by telephone to spread warnings of the danger using its radio stations, but it was several critical hours before the station manager was finally reached at his home. In the meantime, 9-1-1 operators were advising panicked callers to tune to KCJB-AM for emergency instructions, but the station was not broadcasting any such information.
The ammonia spill was the largest of its kind in the United States, with one person killed, and over 1,000 seeking medical attention. Clear Channel claimed no responsibility for its failure to warn residents, maintaining that the city should have used the Emergency Alert System to trigger automatic equipment in place at all US radio stations. The EAS equipment was later found to be functional at the time, but had not been activated by city, state or regional authorities. Unfortunately, other critical systems throughout Minot were either inoperable or had failed, including the public siren system, electricity in parts of the town, and the 9-1-1 telephone system, which became overloaded.
Rejection of advertising images
In June 2010 Clear Channel Outdoor rejected without comment two digital billboard images submitted by St. Pete Pride, an LGBT organization that sponsors gay pride events in the St. Petersburg, Florida area, leading the group to cancel its contract with Clear Channel. St. Pete Pride has stated that throughout its eight year history, Clear Channel has edited the organization's advertising material, and questioned whether the rejection of these images were because they displayed same-sex couples in affectionate poses. A Clear Channel spokesperson declined to comment on the specific reasons why the images were rejected but denied that the affection being shown was an issue, saying that such images had been included in previous St. Pete Pride campaigns.
Clear Channel has been criticized for censoring opinions critical of George W. Bush and other Republicans. After Natalie Maines, the singer of the Dixie Chicks, told a London audience "we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas", the band's radio airplay dropped precipitously. Afterwards, some Clear Channel stations removed The Dixie Chicks from their playlists without any noted repercussions from the company. Gail Austin, Clear Channel's director of programming said, "Out of respect for our troops, our city and our listeners, [we] have taken the Dixie Chicks off our playlists." Clear Channel was accused of orchestrating the radio blacklist by such critics as Paul Krugman, however others claim some Clear Channel stations continued to play the band longer than some other companies.
While a smaller percentage of Clear Channel's AM talk/music stations have been in the progressive talk format (featuring the now-cancelled Air America Radio network) and they have also been a media sponsor of Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, most (nearly 90 percent) of Clear Channel's radio stations feature right wing content.
Use of paid actors posing as callers
Clear Channel, through its subsidiary, Premiere Radio Networks, auditions and hires actors to call in to talk radio shows and pose as listeners in order to provide shows, carried by Clear Channel and other broadcasters, with planned content in the form of stories and opinions. The custom caller service provided by Premiere Radio ensures its clients they won't hear the same actor's voice for at least two months in order to appear authentic to listeners who might otherwise catch on.
- The Australian Radio Network, a joint-venture with APN News & Media, includes the following radio stations:
- Clear Channel radio stations
- Clear Channel UK
- List of broadcast stations owned by Clear Channel
- List of songs deemed inappropriate by Clear Channel following the September 11, 2001 attacks
- ^ a b Clear Channel Investor Relations (2008-02-14). "Clear Channel Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2007 Results". clearchannel.com. Clear Channel. http://www.clearchannel.com/Investors/Documents/290.pdf. Retrieved 2008-05-04.
- ^ "Clearchannel.com." Clear Channel Communications. Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
- ^ http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a_SVbjdnDfnE
- ^ Broadcasting World - Clear Channel CEO Stepping Down
- ^ Eller.org
- ^ Clearchanneloutdoor.com
- ^ "Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst and Capstar Broadcasting Corporation to Acquire SFX Broadcasting in Transaction Valued at Approximately $2.1 Billion". Business Wire. 1997-08-25. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Hicks%2c+Muse%2c+Tate+%26+Furst+and+Capstar+Broadcasting+Corporation+to...-a019694832. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- ^ "Chancellor Media And Capstar Broadcasting To Merge, Creating Nation's Largest Radio Broadcasting Company With Enterprise Value Of More Than $17 billion". Business Wire. 1998-08-27. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Chancellor+Media+And+Capstar+Broadcasting+To+Merge%2c+Creating+Nation's...-a021063449. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- ^ "Clear Channel gets AMFM". CNNMoney. 1999-10-04. http://money.cnn.com/1999/10/04/deals/clear/. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- ^ "Radio Titans to Combine / Clear Channel buying AMFM for $16.6 billion". San Francisco Chronicle. 1999-10-05. http://articles.sfgate.com/1999-10-05/business/17702325_1_clear-channel-communications-amfm-duncan-s-american-radio. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- ^ "Clear Channel Communications, Inc. Enters into Merger Agreement with Private Equity Group Co-Led By Bain Capital Partners, LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P." (Press release). Clear Channel Communications. 2006-11-16. http://www.clearchannel.com/Corporate/PressRelease.aspx?PressReleaseID=1824. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
- ^ Frank Ahrens (2006-11-17). "Clear Channel Sale to End Era". The Washington Post. p. D1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/16/AR2006111600537.html. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
- ^ "Clear Channel Announces Plan to Sell Radio Stations Outside the Top 100 Markets and Entire Television Station Group" (Press release). Clear Channel Communications. 2006-11-16. http://www.clearchannel.com/Corporate/PressRelease.aspx?PressReleaseID=1825. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
- ^ Wall Street Journal newswire (2007-04-23). "Clear Channel sells TV assets to Providence Equity". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2007/04/23/clear_channel_sells_tv_assets_to_providence_equity/. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
- ^ Reuters.com, Clear Channel shareholders OK $17.9 billion buyout, (retrieved July 14, 2008)
- ^ Yorke, Jeffrey (2008-07-30). "Clear Channel Privatization Deal Done". Radio and Records. http://www.radioandrecords.com/RRWebSite/NewsStoryPage.aspx?ContentID=TK0o1vZC748%3d&Version=2.
- ^ Kosman, Josh (2010-04-12) Unclear future: Clear Channel creditors poised to pick up pieces, New York Post
- ^ "The Top 25 Radio Groups By Revenue". 30. Radio World. July 19, 2006. p. 28.
- ^ "Corporate Governance – Board of Directors". Live Nation. http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=194146&p=irol-govBoard. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
- ^ GPS For Avoiding Traffic Jams - Reviews by PC Magazine
- ^ Official Your Smooth Jazz Web site
- ^ "Executives". Clear Channel Communications. http://www.clearchannel.com/Corporate/PressRelease.aspx?PressReleaseID=1168&p=hidden. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
- ^ "Clear Channel Radio Fact Sheet". Clear Channel Communications. http://www.clearchannel.com/Radio/PressRelease.aspx?PressReleaseID=1563&p=hidden. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
- ^ 100k BizJournals.com
- ^ The Florida Times-Union, Sale of Clear Channel TV stations uncertain. 2007-11-09
- ^ "Clear Channel now says it won't close the going-private deal this year". Radio-Info.com. 2007-12-04. http://www.radio-info.com/news/clear-channel-now-says-it-wont-close-the-going-private-deal-this-year.
- ^ Clear Channel to cut U.S. Workforce by 7%, WSJ.com
- ^ All Access (4/28/2009) Clear Channel Radio Completes Staff Reduction Connected To Restructuring
- ^ Business Wire (5/20/2009) Clear Channel Radio Kicks Off Initiative to Assist Unemployed Listeners
- ^ Klinenberg, Eric. "Fighting For Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media". Metropolitan Books, 2007
- ^ a b c Foege, Alec. "Right of the Dial: The Rise of Clear Channel and the Fall of Commercial Radio". Faber and Faber, 2008
- ^ In 2001, Jack Evans, regional senior VP of programming at Clear Channel, attributed the creation of the list to individual program directors rather than management, however the completed list was distributed to the program directors by management at Clear Channel. See also: Truitt, Eliza (2001-09-17). "It's the End of the World as Clear Channel Knows It". Chatterbox. Slate.com. http://www.slate.com/id/1008314/. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
- ^ LiP | Music Review | Bad Transmission: Clear Channel's Hit List
- ^ "Clear Channel Says National "Banned Playlist" Does Not Exist" (Press release). Clear Channel Communications, Inc.. 2001-09-18. http://content.clearchannel.com/corporate/article/NationalBannedPlaylist.pdf. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- ^ "EFF Kills Bogus Clear Channel Patent" (Press release). Electronic Frontier Foundation. 2007-03-13. http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2007_03.php#005155. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
- ^ "Clear Channel adopts 'zero-tolerance' indecency policy". USA Today. February 25, 2004. http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2004-02-25-clearchannel-decency_x.htm?csp=34.
- ^ Washburn, Mark (May 26, 2002). "The voice of Charlotte... and Huntsville... and Jackson...". The Charlotte Observer: p. 1H. http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-8847612_ITM. Retrieved November 25, 2008.
- ^ "Minot train derailment kills one, injures dozens". CBC. 18 January 2002. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2002/01/18/mb_derail2-020118.html.
- ^ "EXCLUSIVE… 911 Calls in North Dakota Town Reveal Dangers of Media Consolidation". Democracy Now. 25 January 2007. http://www.democracynow.org/2007/1/25/exclusive_911_calls_in_north_dakota.
- ^ "Reconsidering Minot and EAS". NewBay Media. http://www.radioworld.com/article/2718. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- ^ Slate.com
- ^ Pransky, Noah (06-12-2010). "St. Pete Pride gay-themed digital billboards rejected by Clear Channel Outdoor". St. Petersburg, Florida: WTSP. http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=133980&catid=8. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
- ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/stories/2003/03/17/daily14.html
- ^ Gabriel Rossman, "Elites, Masses, and Media Blacklists: The Dixie Chicks Controversy," Social Forces: 83 (2004): 61-78.
- ^ "TV station refuses to air anti-war ad days before Bush visit". USA Today. 2005-08-20. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-08-20-bush-ad_x.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-13.
- ^ Media Sponsors for Frameline33
- ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=bjZyYK4030IC&pg=PA243&lpg=PA243&dq=percentage+of+clear+channel+own+conservative&source=bl&ots=ECnXqvf16F&sig=Gha33UbqyfAihXHYZ4r5kfa16Xc&hl=en&ei=8-uhTpSfC6eFiAKVw7Vo&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false
- ^ "Radio Daze", Liel Liebovitz, Tablet
- Eric Boehlert, Radio's big bully, salon.com, April 30, 2001
- Eric Boehlert, Tough company, salon.com, May 30, 2001
- Group sues over anti-war billboard, CNN, July 12, 2004
- Salon.com article on Clear Channel
- Clear Channel Communications
- Clear Channel UK
- Clear Channel Singapore
- List of Clear Channel owned radio and TV stations by state
- Clear Channel Communications at the Open Directory Project
- CorpWatch.org article on Clear Channel
- Project Censored article on Clear Channel
- Team o0xst and Garrett Morgan go before city council
- Clear Channel Sale To End Era, Washington Post
- Kosman, Josh (2010-04-12) Unclear future: Clear Channel creditors poised to pick up pieces, New York Post
Clear Channel Communications, Inc. Corporate officers Board of directors Local radio, TV and satellite radio assets Radio networks Miscellaneous assets
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