Clear Channel Wants To Relax Ownership Rules; Or Its Elected Friends Say The Public Will Be At Risk

from the more-more-more-more dept

Clear Channel's overwhelming ownership of radio stations in many markets leads to an awful lot of criticism who feel the company has taken over the airwaves, often bringing the quality down to the lowest common denominator and even removing the "local" from local DJs. So, it may upset people to read that Matthew Lasar has alerted us that Clear Channel is working hard to change FCC rules to allow it to take possession of even more radio stations in certain markets. However, the company does have a reasonable point. Unlike just a few years ago, there are many more legitimate competitors to the traditional terrestrial radio market -- and the old rules limiting ownership in a market may not make nearly as much sense any more. Where the story gets a bit weird, though, is in the political support Clear Channel has lined up behind its proposal. The quotes from politicians include some bizarre claims about how important it is for the FCC to allow Clear Channel to own 10 radio stations in New York City rather than 8. Apparently, without that change, free terrestrial radio won't be "capable of fulfilling its public interest responsibilities," according to Rep. Fred Upton of Illinois. Not only that, but a group of elected officials together filed a combined letter stating that "Given Americans' reliance on free for both local news and community-oriented programming, as well as essential 'lifeline' information during emergencies, natural disasters, we urge the FCC to address this evolving market situation." Are they really suggesting that if Clear Channel remains stuck with only 8 stations in a city, radio will somehow be less of a "lifeline" of information during emergencies? It's not clear that these limits still make sense any more, given the additional competition from many different directions -- but with such hyperbole in support of Clear Channel's position, it might make you wonder what's wrong with just being honest?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 5:35am

    For the children

    It's for the children.

    They must have 2 more channels for the children. The children will starve in the streets with flys dancing on their eyeballs if clearchannel isn't awarded the right to own two more channels. The public school systems will collapse into dark chaos if clearchannel only owns 8 stations.

    Obviously, this piece of legislation must get passed. Noone wants to be responsible for allowing above atrocities to come to pass, so the piece of leglislation WILL get passed. It MUST. It's for the children.

     

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  2.  
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    Yeah, It's me., Sep 5th, 2006 @ 5:58am

    You know...

    Honestly, I really don't care what the hell this company does. It's kinda like the Microsoft case several years ago. This company, if they continue to purchase radio stations and the like is Only SCREWING THEMSELVES!

    Think about it for a minute. This company, ClearChannel, continues buying radio stations and reduces them to drivel, (hypothetically of course), and then continues to try and change the FCC to allow themselves to buy MORE radio stations and thus reduce them to drivel of course.

    People will, eventually, just stop listening to the radio stations which are owned by Clear Channel, which will eliminate any profit earned via the Radio Commercials played on stations owned. Company then goes bankrupt, and the next owners of the stations (hopefully) learn from the mistakes of clear channel.

    It's a typical case of corporate greed, and in my opinion, if we just allow this to happen rather than try and fight it, (which also gives clear channel more publicity, good, bad, or ugly) we will end up with a better system in place (at least for a little while)

    Again citing the microsoft anti-trust case, I can remember that being one of the top stories in the news while it was happening. Microsoft gained a lot of publicity from that case, and in the end, wasn't really hurt, only split up.

    We all know Windows is S*** but we all use it. By splitting up microsoft all the courts did, was now put TWO big name companies out there both of which are turning out crap products at an unbelievable rate.

    However, (and forgive me for not knowing the actual percentages). the 'nix systems are starting to grab a greater share in the computing world, and although not as user friendly as a windows box, (Unix like OS's are really a pain in the arse requiring a lot of manual configuration), they are also learning from microsoft's mistakes. AND They are making their products more and more user friendly every release.

    I think we can apply this same model to the Radio community.
    (Sorry that my post ran off topic on such a tangent, but I feel it's related)

     

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  3.  
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    Scott, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 6:36am

    Re: You know...

    uhhh....when was microsoft split up again? I don't seem to remember that part of history. That part of the case was dropped.

    The EU did "split" MediaPlayer from windows, but that is about it.

    Also, you may want to rethink this"they are also learning from microsoft's mistakes." The various *nix systems are learning from Microsoft's success, not the mistakes. Linux is becoming more user friendly, that means learning one of the things Microsoft did right, not wrong.

     

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  4.  
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    Known Coward, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 6:42am

    How about the FCC relaxing the rules for Low Power FM, and excluding current broadcasters from said ownership, to really bring Local back to a lot of radio markets? Search Google for LPFM for what it's about.

     

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  5.  
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    Yet another Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 5th, 2006 @ 6:58am

    Observations

    I lived for 2.5 years in NY's evil twin, LA.

    During this time, KCBS changed to Jack-FM format. They fired ALL the DJs. No news, no stupid, ignorant morning shows. No opinions. No weather. No traffic. But, the music play is wide and deep, and runs just like a giant iPod on random. So, where is the public service?

     

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  6.  
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    YAUC, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 6:59am

    Re:

    because there is no money is LPFM at least not enought to line the pockets of the the politicians that are in control...

     

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  7.  
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    Big Huge Dave, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:11am

    We all know Microsoft is what?

    "We all know Windows is S*** but we all still use it."

    Um, no, we ALL don't think, or know, Microsoft is the above mentioned expletive. That's just the opinion of many people, while the opinions of many other people are the opposite.

    I love Microsoft products, never had much of a problem with them. I also like Linux, but can't play my games on it.

    As for the story this post is about I agree with one of the posters who said let them purchase as many radio stations as they want. Let the free market decide if they do a good job of programming or not.

    But I'm very much against corporate welfare. The politicians should not be involved in this at all, and as quoted it's easy to say that they're pockets are lined with some sort of "incentives" to be saying such dribble. The nice thing is though that most of us are smart enough to realize they're just politicians doing their special interest dance.

    I say let anyone that wants to and can afford it buy up the airwaves any way they choose. If the people don't like it they will stop listening, and find alternatives. The free market never fails. It may just take some time.

     

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  8.  
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    PissedOffProgrammer, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:12am

    Re: You Know

    all i read out of that long winded post was "Windows is Sh*t" ... really? here's what i want you to do... i want you, from the ground up, to make your own operating system. what, you can't do that by yourself? it's too much of a task for one person? ok, then here's what i want you to do... coordination a team of people to make an operating system. what, it's too hard for you to get them all to come together to make a product that's 100% grand fine super and dandy without any bugs because a group of people programming is more messy than just one? well damn, there's a conundrum. how about people shut the fuck up until they can come up with their own operating system that works.

     

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  9.  
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    Kendro, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:15am

    public interest duties

    There is no motive other than profiteering.
    You can't support the local need with syndicated and/or pre-recorded filler.
    Clear Channel Communications will throw enough money around and get their wishes this time too. Bribed politicians score another against the American people. Terrestrial radio is dead.

     

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  10.  
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    For the children, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:24am

    Re: For the children

    The funny thing about it when people say, "it's for the children," is that the children consistently get the short end of the stick.

    For example:

    Infant mortality

    Poor schools

    National Debt that their children will not even be able to pay

    A nearly collapsed social security system by the time they need it, which they will pay a ton of money for. I feel bad for the children because all that it looks like they are really getting is awful DRM and another couple radio stations. Oh don't forget that they are also getting a crash course in intelligent design and being cooperative consumers.

    Teacher:
    “now johnny, can you say “bah, bah”

    Student: “Bah Bah”

    Principal: “Wow Mrs. Choderstone, you are doing a fantastic job teaching Johnny to sound like a sheep.”

    Teacher: “Well Mr. FrankenFurker, you will just have to come back next week when I teach Johnny how to grab his ankles and say, George Bush.”

     

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  11.  
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    SoobieTech, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:25am

    Exactly.....

    This has bribery written all over it.........You mix gov't and money, and ANYTHING is possible.

     

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  12.  
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    chris (profile), Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:26am

    why do you need 10 stations?

    maybe new york is different musically, but in cincinnati there are only like 6 formats that all the stations play, and they all suck.

    the only time i listen to the radio is when i visit vice city or san andreas.

     

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  13.  
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    Dropped local a long time ago, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:36am

    Satelite

    This is why I dropped local radio 2 years ago and went with Sirius. No FCC, no commercials, lots of variety and good music.

     

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  14.  
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    Known Coward, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re:

    LPFM is not supposed to be about money. They are licensed only to non profit entities. An LP FM was the only radio station on the air in Bay St. Louis, MS through most of Katrina. LP FM is also good for alternative rock formats which typically don't make a lot of money..

     

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  15.  
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    Michael Jones, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 8:17am

    Clear Channels dominance

    Speaking as a former owner of a small local AM radio station. I am appalled that the FCC would even think that this is better for the American public. Clear Channel has completely changed the landscape of local radio and in most cases have turned it upside down. In North Carolina (NASCAR country) where I reside they have taken one of the most popular radio stations in the area that used to bring us all the popular nascar related shows and moved the station from Statesville to Greensboro so they could dominate more in that market.
    Once again changing not only the format but the location of the station to dominate larger markets. How Clear Channel is not considered to be a monopoly is beyond me. Something needs to be done about this dominance of the airways.

     

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  16.  
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    Keith, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 8:49am

    Won't some please think of the Advertisers?

    Clearly the reason they want to own more stations is so they can charge more for advertising. What are businesses to do - go to another station Bwha ha ha - nope - same sales guy selling the same rates.

    Perhaps the local business can advertise on a billboard instead - nope - Clearchannel owns them too.

    Yep - for the public good. Sheeesh.

     

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  17.  
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    Scott, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 9:56am

    Re: We all know Microsoft is what?

    How the HELL did that turn into a MS bashing exercise? WOW!!

    Not that I don't agree with you, but this was about Clear Channel. I personally, listen to XM, pay my 6.95 per month, and listen to what ever the fuck I want!!

     

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  18.  
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    Yet another Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 10:37am

    Re: Clear Channels dominance

    ClearChannel is "big business", a Wal-Mart of the airwaves (not "the", there is still more than one.) Do they compete fairly? Sure, but they use their own definition of fair.

    This entire deal is about deregulation, but it amounts to building a govt. supported monopoly or duopoly since it is being done piecemeal, at the behest of the large players.

    Side trivia question: How many large national banks are left?

    As I was talking about LA earlier, the best station in town is Indie103.1, which is owned by a relatively small player Entravision. I'll stop streaming them if they ever get bought by ClearChannel.

     

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  19.  
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    Lay Person, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 10:57am

    Clear Channel sucks!

    Clear Channel sucks!

    These are the guys responsible for timing all of their ads on all their stations at the same time. That way you are forced to listen to the ads even if you change stations. Why?
    Because they own like every fricken radio station that there is. At least English speaking in San Diego.

    In addition, these are the same people that have very limited play lists. In fact, you can tell the time of day by the song that's being played. What does this mean to the listener? Far fewer choices of what is considered radio entertainment.

    Clear channel owns way too many stations as it is. They don't need more, they need less. They also need to be forced to offer more variety and break up their advertisement schedules.

     

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  20.  
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    Annoying Bastard, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 11:14am

    To ClearChannel, with love...

    ....................../´¯/)
    ....................,/¯../
    .................../..../
    ............./´¯/'...'/´¯¯`·¸
    ........../'/.../..../......./¨¯
    ........('(...´...´.... ¯~/'...')
    ..........................'...../
    ..........''............. _.·´
    ..........................(
    ..............................

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 11:17am

    Re: Clear Channel sucks!

    AMEN!

    I get so sick of hearing commercials on all the clearchannel stations at the same time!

    I think clearchannel needs to cut back on the number of stations it runs. Is there anywhere in the US that doesn't pick up a clearchannel signal of some sort? I don't know for sure, but I would bet there aren't many. Is it just me, or does it seem like all the C.C. stations are exactly the same? It seems like all there stations are just iPods set to shuffle with lots of ads. What happened to the days of promoting music on the air and getting new bands some airplay? Oh, yeah, I guess it got lost between MTV and media conglomorates. Surely we'd all like to think that clearchannel has the listeners in mind when it comes to station content, but that's just not the case. They want more stations to play more ads on and to continue blanketing the nation with their signal. Any Joe Politician is going to vote for this. They have to. We're right in the middle of election season and a nay vote for something that is "for the children" would only warrant negative ads against Joe Politician and he might not get reelected to his big, bad senate seat.

    Anyway, clearchannel is bullshit....listen to true local radio if you're lucky enough to have it or just pop in cd's.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 11:50am

    exactly the opposite

    Actually, having more clear channel stations would be very bad for local radio and disaster preparedness. In 2002, there was a disaster in Minot, ND where an ammonia tanker train derailed and spewed ammonia. A request to the local clear channel station to warn people was ignored, as the station kept on playing its typical playlist (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minot,_North_Dakota).

    So you tell me - is having more local Clear Channel stations going to enhance public service on the radio? Public service is more than running PSA ads. It's actually having the station involved in the community, something clear channel doesn't do.

    To me, the restriction should be more than how many stations in one market a company can own. It should also be how many markets, total, a company can own stations in. Restricting that to, say, 5 would restrict media companies to having at most a regional influence, and help prevent the amount of homogenized crap on the airwaves and the disconnect between the media and the location it supposedly serves.

     

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  23.  
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    Lay Person, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 12:08pm

    Many paths, one destination

    There are many ways to go about diversifying the content and ads.

    Right now all we have is crap. If you want anything of value from radio, youy have to subscribe either to XM or Sirius for ~$10.00 per month; though you will still get ads.

    Right now we have many stations with only Clear Channel on them. Like a big monolith that only caters to itself. It has no competition so all we get is more of the same.

    Now, putting all else aside, is this more is better mentality all that great?

     

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  24.  
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    Brad Eleven, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 12:17pm

    Congress sucks ClearChannel

    Don't get me started. The repeal of The Fairness Act during the Reagan administration opened the door for single-issue stations, and therefore Rush Limbaugh and the like, 24/7. Then the FCC relaxed the regs during the Clinton administration so that one company could own more stations in any given broadcasting area.

    The icing is that I work in San Antonio, with several ex-CC IT guys. The horror story about a CC problem causing one or more emergency broadcasting systems to break? Actually typical. CC has paid more FCC fines than everyone else put together for EBS failures.

    Speaking of EBS, who's the other vital component of the EBS? Why, it's the telcos!!! Oh, yeah... thsse captains of industry who reap obscene profits because they own the infrastructure (yes, they paid to build it, or at least talked enough people into investing) are REQUIRED BY LAW TO PROVIDE ESSENTIAL PUBLIC SERVICES IN RETURN FOR THEIR EXCLUSIVE OWNERSHIP OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE.

    Think radio stations are also required? Nope, they just get fined when the test fails AND the fault is shown to be theirs. These fines can also be appealed, and often go unpaid in direct proportion to the influence of the broadcaster.

    We've got trouble. Trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with Gee, We're Screwed. Hey, at least someone got rich off of the deal, so we do have tragedy instead of out-and-out pathos.

     

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  25.  
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    dj pierre, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 2:40pm

    Clear Channel is the devil the right hand man to MTV. both of these companies have killed Music. C.C. has killed the DJ! It is so fun to listen to a jock outta Houston try and talk to the People in Portland like he is part of the community. It als fun to listen to commercials on every station they own in your city at the same time so you don't get to really a choice of genres. Speaking of, you only get to hear the same 10 songs over & over again. Just like MTV. Hell if your lucky you might just hear that stupid LONDON BRIDGE SONG just twice in the hour!!! C.C. must be forced by the FCC to sell off their stations to bring the freedom of choice back to the people, Who are these dumb asses saying for the children?!?!!? what the hell are they talking about!!!! for the children?!!!!! do they go out and by radio's?!!! NO!! they get what there parents have, and if they are old enough to buy their own radio, they are not children. . . . The real agenda is this CLEAR CHANNEL, buying up all the damn stations so they control them all. program what they want you to hear. be able to slowly brainwash you into what the want you to hear and what they want you to believe the truth is!! Like FOX NEWS!!! this isn't about running commercials at the same time, it's about control. Control the Airwaves, you control the people. Boycott Clear Channel!!! what ever happened to ten stations battling with eachother to see who could put together the best format with the most entertaining Jocks?!! HUH??!! with clear channel you got this 19year old that sounds like he is sucking on a heliem tank and he is not even in your city!!!! and he is only getting paid $10 dollars an hour!!!! bring radio's power back to the people Down with C.C.!!! and if the FCC lets them talk them into this bullshit, well there in on it to to control & brainwash the public for future agenda's!!!!

     

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  26.  
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    Kendro, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Uh, yes.

    Sounds like the "public" ain't buying the buffalo chips anymore. Serving the public trust isn't reflected in their actions.
    That should be obvious.
    Can't believe folks can miss something that big and still get elected to public office. It's a shame.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2006 @ 7:26am

    Correction

    I just wanted to correct that Rep Fred Upton is a Republican Representative from Michigan, not Illinois.

     

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  28.  
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    Venus Flytrap, Sep 6th, 2006 @ 9:57am

    Oh Yeah....

    Baby, did you ever wonder...?
    Wonder, whatever became of me....
    I'm livin on the air in Cincinatti.
    Cincinatti, WKRP....

     

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  29.  
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    Doogie, Sep 6th, 2006 @ 10:46am

    Upton is a tool.

    How on earth would a clown like Fred Upton know what's best for media and listeners in New York City, when he represents folks from the Great Lakes region???

    Upton, you're a goddamn moron. At least have the balls to admit you're in Clear Channel's back pocket, you money-grubbing whore.

     

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