Clear Channel Communications

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Clear Channel Communications
Corporate logo of Clear Channel
Type Public (NYSE: CCU)
Founded 1972
Headquarters San Antonio, TX
Key people Mark Mays, CEO & President
Industry Entertainment, Advertising
Products radio, billboards, television
Revenue $2.7 billion USD (Third quarter, 2005)
Employees 35,200 full-time, 60,000 total
Slogan various

Clear Channel Communications (NYSE: CCU) is a media company based in the United States of America. Clear Channel, founded in 1972 by Lowry Mays and Red McCombs, wields considerable influence in radio broadcasting, concert promotion and hosting, and fixed advertising in the United States through its subsidiaries. The company owns over 1,100 full-power AM, FM, and shortwave radio stations, ten satellite radio channels on XM Satellite Radio, and more than 30 television stations in the United States, among other media outlets in other countries. The present head of the company is Mark Mays, and its headquarters is located in San Antonio, Texas.

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 was such a station. (The term is now becoming obsolete, not because of the company's choice of name, but because the exclusive rights of such stations have been trimmed back significantly.)


[edit] History

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 1986, the company purchased its first stations outside of San Antonio. 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 were 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. One such instance was that of the nation's first alternative rock radio station, 91X in Tijuana, Baja California/San Diego.

On November 16, 2006, Clear Channel announced plans to take the company private, being bought out by two private capital firms, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners for $18.7 billion dollars, 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). [1] [2] The new ownership of Clear Channel has also announced that all of its TV stations are for sale, as well as all 448 radio stations that are outside of the top 100 markets. [3]

[edit] Businesses

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.

[edit] Radio

With 1,100 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 2005, more than $1 billion more than the number-two group owner, CBS Radio.[1]

Clear Channel has purchased stations from or acquired the following radio companies:

[edit] Outdoor advertising

Billboards at Dundas Square in Toronto, owned by Clear Channel.
Billboards at Dundas Square in Toronto, owned by Clear Channel.
  • Bought Eller Media, Universal Outdoor, and More Group Plc, giving Clear Channel outdoor advertising space in 25 countries.
  • Owns part of 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.
  • Of all their Outdoor formats internationally, Clear Chanel is most excited about their partnership with APN Outdoor in Australia, which has resulted in a 49% share in Adshel, a street furniture advertising company. While APN Outdoor are the majority shareholders (owning 51% of the Adshel), Clear Chanel none the less regard this medium to one of their most exciting international ventures.

[edit] Television

The first television station Clear Channel purchased was WPMI in Mobile, Alabama in 1988. It now owns more than 40 additional stations, a few of which are independent (non-network affiliates). The company plans to divest all of its television stations in the next year.

[edit] Live events

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 in directors between Clear Channel and Live Nation, specifically: L. Lowry Mays (Director of Live Nation), Mark P. Mays (Vice Chairman of Live Nation), and Randall T. Mays (Chairman of Live Nation). [4]

[edit] News and information

[edit] Worldwide

[edit] 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.

[edit] Controversy

[edit] Market share

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the company became an object of persistent criticism. Critics claim that it has abused its market position and has operated in an unethical manner. FCC regulations were relaxed following the Telecommunications Act of 1996, allowing companies to own far more radio signals than before. After spending about $30 billion, Clear Channel owned over 1,200 stations nationwide, including as many as seven stations in certain markets. Competitors and listeners complained, but so far the company has been able to hold on to all of its stations after divesting a few following the acquisition of AMFM.

Other controversies have included changing many syndicated shows, most notably Rush Limbaugh, from syndication to "network" status by flipping from well-known stronger news-talk stations to much weaker stations which are owned by Clear Channel, thereby making the show a "network" show instead of being syndicated.

[edit] Repeat songs and commercials

In the past decade, Clear Channel has become notorious for overplaying hit songs on its country music and top 40 stations, though industry detection websites like have found no clear proof supporting this claim. The company has been criticized for the multiple commercial breaks on its stations, and in response, it began its "Less Is More" campaign in November 2004. Now, Clear Channel radio stations have the one of the lowest commercial per minute total in the business. In contrast, however, the company recently won in an arbitration dispute with XM Satellite Radio over the right to air commercials on its XM music channels. Another criticism cast upon the company is tendency to change the format of its radio stations without notice. However, this is a widespread practice throughout the radio industry and is not specific to Clear Channel.

[edit] September 11, 2001

Further information: List of "songs with questionable lyrics" following the September 11, 2001 attacks

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., a list of songs apparently recommended to be removed from airplay as inappropriate during a time of national mourning was generated and circulated. A small list was initially generated by the Clear Channel office, though individual program directors added many of their own songs. A list containing about 150 songs was soon circulating on the Internet. The criteria for choosing the songs seemed to be unreasonable to many. A number of songs were apparently placed on the list because they had specific words such as "plane", "fly", and "falling" in their titles. Many people found it particularly ludicrous that ACDC's "Hells Bells" was one of the songs listed. 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. Not only did many individual stations play songs from the alleged lists, but Clear Channel's Classic Rock station WOFX "The Fox", near its Radio headquarters in Cincinnati, played many of those "banned" songs shortly after 9/11 and after the story about the list.[citation needed] Songs that were played included Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" and Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World".

[edit] Organized rallies to support the war in Iraq

In the build up to the second Iraq War, Clear Channel organized and paid for a counterpoint to anti-war demonstrations in which supporters of war in Iraq descended on cities including Fort Wayne, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. Some of the counter-demonstrators waved flags, messages of support for the troops, and banners attacking liberals, excoriating the UN, and in one case, advising, "Bomb France Now." Clear Channel paid for the advertising costs and for the hire of musicians for the rallies.

Clear Channel said the rallies were "patriotic", not "pro-war". [5]

[edit] Banning music and political ramifications

In March of 2003, Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks said to an English concert audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas," upsetting many music fans and politicians in the United States. Thinking the Dixie Chicks were now a pariah and thus unmarketable, all of the country music stations owned by 2 Atlanta-based companies, Cumulus Media and Cox Radio were told to stop playing their music. There is gossip that Clear Channel also may have directed their stations to do so, but the company states this was solely the work of local station managers, DJs, and angry fans. Some critics of Clear Channel, including the editors of Rock and Rap Confidential, say otherwise, claiming that Clear Channel executives, in a bid to gain support for various policies they were pushing in Washington, instigated the boycott among its country music stations to send a message to other musicians that criticizing President George Bush's administration could hurt their careers through reduced airplay, etc. Though, there is no evidence that was the case. Madonna had also faced similar problems when she released her anti-Iraq war album, American Life, and faced reduced radio airplay throughout the release of her album in 2003.[citation needed]

[edit] Live music recordings

In 2004, Clear Channel acquired a key U.S. Patent 6917566  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 is 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 for profit. However, some media critics, as well as smaller business rivals, believe 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. [6]

Clear Channel no longer owns live music venues following its December 2005 spin-off of Live Nation, formerly known as Clear Channel Entertainment, which is now an independent company (NYSE: LYV).

[edit] 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. Meanwhile, Clear Channel has continued to battle salacious content on the airwaves. Every Programming employee is required to take online training and testing to assure they understand the difference between indecency and obscenity.

[edit] Concerts and promotions

Clear Channel has 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 with no monetary consideration, but Clear Channel has new rules regarding local concert promotion in Denver.

In 2002, Clear Channel was sued by the US Justice Department for not allowing people with diabetes to bring medically necessary supplies, including syringes used for insulin, into concert venues. Clear Channel changed their policy shortly afterward.

In 2004, Clear Channel was sued by a San Francisco, California man for charging a mandatory parking fee on every ticket sold for a venue, whether the person purchasing the ticket was driving alone, car-pooling, or using public transportation. This is still unresolved.

Women's health advocates heavily criticized a contest ("Breast Christmas Ever") that went to air in Tampa, Jacksonville, St. Louis, and Detroit during late 2004 via Clear Channel in America. Contest prizes included breast enlargement surgery but provided for no legal recourse in the event of malpractice. [7]

Clear Channel distanced itself from the contest, with spokesperson Jennifer Gery stating, "It's not a Clear Channel-sponsored contest; we empower our local manager to make programming decisions." This statement was met with some skepticism. Editor of 'The Radio Wave', Ian MacRae's responded, "Sure, but the concept was obviously floated to stations by the network [Clear Channel] in the first place. Either that or it's a hell of a coincidence that four Clear Channels thought of it at the same time."

[edit] Stations on "auto-pilot"

Clear Channel, like other broadcasters both large and small, utilizes technology (known as Prophet) that 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 is called voice-tracking, and some smaller market stations are partially or completely staffed by these "cyber-jocks" who may have never visited the town they are broadcasting in. In some instances this allows the corporation to eliminate or reduce on-air staff positions. Clear Channel also uses Viero([8]) which automates the scheduling of programming and spots. It's been stated that Clear Channel maintains a majority of its staff in hourly-paid, part-time positions. This may be the case in some smaller markets. However, in medium to larger markets, full-time announcers staff each station. They may also voice track several other cities. Not all radio stations use Prophet; there are other systems available for broadcasters, especially when satellite-based programming is used.

A side-effect of this trend to automate radio stations, as opposed to signing off overnight, is that no one is there to warn people when disaster strikes. Clear Channel was criticized for an incident that occurred in Minot, North Dakota, when a Canadian Pacific Railway train filled with toxic anhydrous ammonia derailed early on the morning of January 18, 2002. At that time, Clear Channel owned six of the nine radio stations in the Minot area. City officials attempted without success to reach the local Clear Channel office by telephone to spread the warning; it was several critical hours before the station manager was finally reached at his home. Clear Channel claims no responsibility, and maintains that the city should have used the Emergency Alert System to trigger the automatic equipment at the station. In this instance, however, the emergency alert system failed, leaving city officials with no recourse. Industry observers point out, however, that very few people affected by the accident would have been listening:

[E]ven if those Minot radio stations had all been under local ownership that cold January weekend night five years ago, and even if those stations had all had local newspeople on duty at that late hour to answer the phone and get the news of the train derailment on the air immediately - who would have had their radios on and been listening at 1:30 in the morning?

Scott FybushNorthEast Radio Watch, 2007-01-22[2]

[edit] Rejection of anti-war billboard

In 2004, Project Billboard, a non-profit Democratic political advocacy group, filed a breach of contract suit against Clear Channel for the rejection by its outdoor advertising division of a billboard ad against the war in Iraq. The ad, intended for a 40-foot billboard Clear Channel manages in Times Square, was to have the slogan, "Democracy is best taught by example, not by war," along with a red, white, and blue cartoon image of a bomb. Clear Channel's contract with Project Billboard only allowed the company to reject ads that were illegal or contrary to public morals; Clear Channel claimed that the image of the bomb was insensitive in New York City, the site of the most devastating of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Project Billboard claimed that Clear Channel's rejection was instead for purely political reasons. Clear Channel settled the suit by agreeing to an alternative featuring an image of a peace dove instead of a bomb.

[edit] Censorship

Clear Channel has been criticized for censoring opinions critical of George W. Bush and other Republicans. Clear Channel-owned KTVX was the only local television station which refused to air the paid political message of Cindy Sheehan against the war in Iraq.[3] Some Utahans consider this to be another act of censorship of grass-roots free speech, a charge which appears to be countered by the fact that Clear Channel changed many of its AM talk/music stations to the progressive talk format (featuring the Air America Radio network) which is highly critical of President Bush. However, Clear Channel has begun cancelling some of their progressive stations.

[edit] and musician boycotts

Besides the website ClearChannelSucks spawned from RadioAid's battle for the ownership of the ClearChannelSucks domain [9], there are a number of bands and radio hosts, including Howard Stern, that actively boycott Clear Channel. Dick and Skibba have boycotted them since the station automated many DJs. The most widely known of these are The Locust, as well as Conor Oberst, the leading figure behind Bright Eyes, who openly and continuously advocate the boycotting of all Clear Channel events, venues, advertising area, and radio stations. The Locust were so attached to this boycotting that it affected their April 2005 tour with the Mike Patton side project Fantômas. The skacore squat band Leftöver Crack featured a song on their 2004 album Fuck World Trade entitled "Clear Channel (Fuck Off)" as a demonstration of extreme opposition to the organisation. Dave Matthews has also repeatedly spoken out against Clear Channel. [10]

Another outspoken detractor of Clear Channel is veteran rocker Neil Young, who has criticized the company in numerous interviews. After refusing to perform in Clear Channel-owned venues for several years, Young was finally obligated to do so on his 2000 "CSNY2K" tour with Crosby, Stills and Nash. In 2003, on an even more extensive tour showcasing his Greendale song-story, Young turned his shows into theatrical productions in which images lampooning Clear Channel were prominently displayed.

In 2004, rapper Sage Francis mounted a "Fuck Clear Channel" tour. Grand Buffet, Mac Lethal and Jared Paul shared the bill.

[edit] Official response to controversy

Clear Channel officially denies most of these allegations. An article titled Know the Facts on its corporate website addresses many of these concerns. It also mentions a radio company once owned by Viacom. In its previous corporate structure, Viacom had purchased the broadcast interests of Westinghouse, another major defense contractor. However, Viacom has split up, and today the company, called CBS Radio, is part of CBS Corporation.

[edit] Corporate governance

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.

Former members of the board of directors of the corporation are: Tom Hicks and Vernon Jordan, who 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 and Chancellor Media.

[edit] Top executives

Lowry Mays
company founder, chairman; also Director of Live Nation
Mark Mays
son of Lowry Mays, chief executive officer, president and chief operating officer; named CEO after serving as interim CEO since his father underwent surgery to treat a blood clot and bleeding in his brain; also Vice Chairman of Live Nation.
Randall Mays
son of Lowry Mays, executive vice president and chief financial officer; also Chairman of Live Nation.
John Hogan
president and chief operating officer, Clear Channel Radio

[edit] Programming on Clear Channel radio stations

Premiere Radio Networks, the syndication wing of Clear Channel, carries many program hosts of various political ideologies, which seems to contradict accusations by Clear Channel critics that the company censors viewpoints from the left. The network distributes a variety of programs to both Clear Channel-owned and non-Clear Channel-owned 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.

[edit] News talk stations

News talk stations owned by Clear Channel usually have a standard slate of hosts. The morning show has been mostly local, with the rest of the day is filled by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity (by agreement with ABC Radio), Michael Savage, and Coast to Coast AM unless another station in that particular market holds the rights to that particular show. Clear Channel has begun syndicating its Pittsburgh morning show host Jim Quinn on other talk stations in morning drive.

[edit] Sports talk stations

Most sports talk stations owned by Clear Channel are affiliated with Fox Sports Radio and carry The Jim Rome Show. They are usually branded either Fox Sports or The Sports Animal.

[edit] Classic Rock

Clear Channel classic rock stations are usually branded as "The Fox." Often, they will carry Bob and Tom in morning drive.

[edit] Adult Standards

Most of Clear Channel's adult standards stations are turnkey operations, running a direct feed of the Music of Your Life network. These stations have no local jocks or Web sites.

[edit] Adult Contemporary

Clear Channel's soft adult contemporary stations are usually branded as either "Lite FM" or "Sunny." 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.

Hot adult contemporary stations are usually branded as "Mix." Hot and rhythmic adult contemporary stations often carry Wake Up With Whoopi in morning drive.

[edit] Contemporary hit radio

Clear Channel's CHR stations are usually branded as KISS FM.

[edit] Country music

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.

[edit] Classic Hits

Due to recent budget cuts, many of Clear Channel's classic hits stations have added Tom Kent's "Classic Top 40" in the overnights.

[edit] 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.

[edit] Famous people managed by Clear Channel or subsidiaries

Music promoted by Clear Channel or subsidiaries: U2, System of a Down, Antony and the Johnsons, Mötley Crüe, David Gray, LCD Soundsystem, The Prodigy, Rod Stewart, Guns N' Roses, Duran Duran, Feeder, Depeche Mode, Bullet for My Valentine

[edit] Foreign Subsidiaries

[edit] Australia

[edit] New Zealand

[edit] Former hosts

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "The Top 25 Radio Groups By Revenue", Radio World, July 19, 2006, p. 28.
  2. ^ Fybush, Scott (2007-01-22). "NERW Mini-Rant". NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  3. ^ "TV station refuses to air anti-war ad days before Bush visit", USA Today, 2005-08-20. Retrieved on 2007-01-13.
  1. Eric Boehlert, Radio's big bully,, April 30, 2001
  2. Eric Boehlert, Tough company,, May 30, 2001
  3. Group sues over anti-war billboard, CNN, July 12, 2004
  4. article on Clear Channel
  5. Washington Post - Clear Channel Sale To End Era

[edit] External links

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