Clear Channel Gets Bought Out; Will New Owners Mean New Ideas?

from the wait-and-see dept

Radio giant Clear Channel has agreed to a $19 billion leveraged buyout by a group of private-equity firms -- a move that will take the company private and could spark significant change in how it does business. Clear Channel has continually fought for the relaxation of ownership rules that would allow it to own even more stations in particular markets, but it's unclear if its new owners will want to pursue the same type of strategy that's appeared focused on buying every radio station in sight, and making them all sound the same. When private-equity firms take over a company, the first thing many people think is that they'll break it into parts and sell it off at a profit. Clear Channel is already saying it wants to sell off its 42 TV stations and nearly half its radio stations (though these are all in smaller markets, and generate less than 10 percent of its total revenues) and there's been persistent talk that it would split off its outdoor advertising business as well. Further breaking up its radio holdings is possible, but seems rather unlikely -- but so does further large-scale expansion, given that the company will soon take on more debt to finance the buyout. We've slated Clear Channel in the past for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of the ham-fisted way it's tried to adapt to the changing media market. There's hope that new ownership could realize how badly the company's stumbled when it comes to technology and the internet, or even the effect its work to homogenize its stations and the music industry has had, and seek to make significant changes to deliver new revenue growth. However, current executives, including the CEO and chairman from the controlling Mays family, will stay on board -- so any real change would appear to remain a distant possibility. However, freed from the burden of having to try to satisfy public investors, or driven by the demands of its new owners, maybe something will change.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    whargoul, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 9:43am

    Clear Channel's been bought...

    It's about damn time. But if the head of the company is staying, I don't see any real change in their practices coming anytime soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    progrock, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 9:45am

    It's gotten pretty bad

    With clear channel owning darn near all the stations around big cities, it's harder and harder to hear anything but top 40 stuff. And not that top 40 is all bad, but change is good. I'd like an alternative station, a classic rock station, maybe even something even more out there, like a metal station. I'm sick of the latest rapper chanting about how much money and how many women he has.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mike, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 10:18am


    They should just scrap AM/FM radio, it's useless anyway!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    James, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 11:48am

    Of all the reasons I love my XM radio...

    ....clear channel is as good as any of them. Perhaps in other languages "clear channel" is a euphemism for "sucky ass radio".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Lewis Salem, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 1:26pm



    Why is FM radio useless? I find the satellite radio in my car to have less quality than FM. I love the selection, but the compression is a problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Mike.

    You must be using Sirius, or use your unit with an FM modulator (or both.) The quality of satellite radio (granted, I'm an XM subscriber) FAR surpasses FM broadcast radio. With a direct connection via add on receiver to the head unit, or an external receiver, quality is at close or equal to CD quality in my estimation.

    My 2 cents...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Tyshaun, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 2:16pm

    Why would ClearChannel change?

    Why would ClearChannel change anything? Their strategy, while not very beneficial to the competition, has been very lucrative and appears quite successful in dominating areas it has assets in (such as radio and outdoor ads).

    Remember the point of a corporation is to turn a profit for its shareholders, not to make people happy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Stu, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 3:34pm

    I don't understand how satellite quality has any practical value when listening in a car.
    Even when your car is high end, when you factor in wind, tire and road noise listening quality is shot anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Jack, Nov 17th, 2006 @ 5:55am

    No change..

    Clear Channel's strategy is to utilize talent in one market in many markets. This saves them money and allows them to use talent in markets where they would otherwise not be able to recruit talent.

    It definitely saves them a lot of money and I don't see why they would change.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Philip, Nov 17th, 2006 @ 6:07am

    I've got a 3 step program that eliminates all radio, satellite & terrestrial:

    1) BMW iPod adaptor
    2) iPod
    3) Podcasts

    Bliss...with no monthly fees or screaming car commericals

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Leslie, Nov 17th, 2006 @ 7:28am

    No More Continuious Christina Aguleria!

    Haha the clear channel station out here drives me insane. Same stuff every day. I could have people believe I am a psychic b/c I can guess what song is coming on next. It'd be nice to have a change. Gimme a little bit of something different

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Dan, Nov 20th, 2006 @ 7:20am

    Stu: What?

    Have you ever driven a Lexus? The whole point of a nice car with a nice sound system is that it doesn't have road noise and does sound good. XM sounds great in my car and FM stations are staticy. It's especially good for long drives when you don't feel like finding CDs or changing the FM station every 4 minutes.

    Anyway, I love XM. Sounds great, good content, and less staticy channel changing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Laura Pyne, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 2:20pm

    Are you willing to answer direct questions?

    It is been mesmorizing for me to watch this industry pass by enormous opportunities, financially and socially. In any business, there must be a a market. There is a big one- watch and pay attention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Daniel Belgrave, Nov 24th, 2006 @ 6:23am

    CBS will buy another salt lake city?

    Clear Channel might sell all cw stations to CBS?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Daniel Belgrave, Nov 24th, 2006 @ 6:29am

    Re: CBS will buy another salt lake city?

    Clear Channel Might Sell KUCW-TV (Channel 30) to CBS Corp.
    and making 12 CW Network Owned-and-operated station,
    CBS already owned KUTV (CHANNEL 2) In Salt Lake City.
    and even starting 9 o'clock newscast will replaced KJZZ-TV (Channel 14)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    shinderpal jandu, Nov 28th, 2006 @ 1:11am

    This will all end with crying .

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 4:12am

    Changes in Clear Channel

    I was afraid of this change.
    I noticed a small change in late Nov. after the buy out.
    Clear Channel programming in it's talk radio IE: Coasttocoastam, sounds more like Fox Media.
    There has been a change in the content of talk radio leaning more toward propaganda for the Government.
    As for some of the talk show host,like Art Bell, they sound like the talking heads of average American media.
    Absolute Propaganda spewing crapheads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    sam, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 11:14pm

    Who is worse

    Is Clear Channel worse for ruining radio or Mitt (and company) for likely gutting the company (and its employees).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    gordon, Apr 11th, 2008 @ 5:39am

    good day sir

    good day sir.

    my name is Gordon.
    from ghana western africa i am musician pl sir i need your help
    i come from a very pure family and i loss my family in the car
    accident so i have nobody to help me amme full talented rapper
    i sing hiphop pl sir don.t doit for the seck human pl doit for the
    seck of god i promiss i will make you prade if you do this for
    me my tallent is wested in the street i have no home pl help me out.

    god pless you and your family.

    best regard
    gordon hartd.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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