Clear Channel Communications

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Clear Channel Communications is the number one radio station owner in the U.S. "Clear Channel owns, operates, programs, or sells airtime for nearly 1,200 radio stations; it also has equity interests in 240 international stations. Clear Channel owns a 90% stake in one of the world's largest outdoor advertising companies, Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, with more than 910,000 display locations worldwide. In addition, Clear Channel owns or manages about 50 TV stations and sells spot advertising for more than 3,300 radio and TV stations through Katz Media. The company has agreed to be taken private by an investment group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital." [1]

In August 2006, TheDeal.com reported that Clear Channel "is considering filing a formal petition to the Federal Communications Commission seeking to raise the caps limiting how many stations one company can own in the largest individual U.S. markets." According to the article, the company has 1,189 radio stations, but "wants the FCC to relax a rule that limits a company's radio station ownership in individual markets." A Clear Channel spokesperson said, "Easing the ownership restrictions will help level the playing field and let free radio compete with iPods, online music services and satellite radio. Certainly, seeing that satellite radio has 150 unregulated stations in every market and free radio is limited to just eight shows the apparent disparity." [1]

History

See the company's web site here for a chronological listing of its acquisitions.

Self-Censorship

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Clear Channel program directors issued a list of "potentially offensive songs" that it suggested stations not play. Many reports referred to the list as a "ban" on the songs, which included all Rage Against The Machine songs, the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy" (which includes the line "Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade"), John Lennon's "Imagine," Metallica's "Seek and Destroy," AC/DC's "Safe in New York," Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife," Peter, Paul and Mary's "Leaving on a Jet Plane," and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire," and "The Drifters' On Broadway."

Clear Channel spokesperson Pam Taylor objected to the list being called a "ban," saying, ""This was an effort to help people be sensitive to the unthinkable environment. It's been somehow turned into some sort of evil attempt to control pop music, and that's absurd."[2] According to the New York Times, "a smaller list of questionable songs was originally generated by the corporate office, but an overzealous regional executive began contributing suggestions and circulating the list via e-mail, where it continued to grow." The program directors at individual stations were able to decide whether to play the listed songs or not.[3]

Also, in 2003, "after the Dixie Chicks criticized President Bush during a London performance ... some Clear Channel radio stations pulled the group's music from their play lists."[4] According to the New York Times (March 31, 2003), "More unified were the actions of Cumulus Media, which owns 262 stations, and has at least temporarily stopped all 42 of its country stations from playing the Dixie Chicks."

Pro-War Rallies

The Clear Channel's activities go beyond radio. In March 2003, its affiliate stations throughout the United States organized pro-war rallies, under the name of Rally for America, to coincide with the Bush administration's launch of war with Iraq. "Experienced Bushologists let out a collective 'Aha!' when Clear Channel was revealed to be behind the pro-war rallies, because the company's top management has a history with George W. Bush," reported Paul Krugman in the New York Times. Although Clear Channel denied sponsoring the rallies, "they were promoted repeatedly by the company's widely syndicated radio personality, Glenn Beck."[5]

To counter negative impressions resulting from the post-9/11 playlist and "Rally for America" debacles, Clear Channel hired the crisis-management firm Brainerd Communicators. According to the New York Times (March 31, 2003), part of Clear Channel's damage control included an op/ed article by Glenn Beck in which "Mr. Beck described the [pro-war] rallies as a grassroots response to his personal broadcast call to 'Mr. and Mrs. America' to urge their local radio stations to hold rallies."

Breaking the Law

In their "Ten Worst Corporations of 2003" list, Robert Weissman and Russell Mokhiber report that Clear Channel has "compiled a record of 'repeated law-breaking' ... violating the law -- including prohibitions on deceptive advertising and on broadcasting conversations without obtaining permission of the second party to the conversation -- on 36 separate occasions over the previous three years."[6]

Bush Connections

"The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks. ... When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel's chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university's endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire." [7],

"In addition, Hicks steered a controversial scheme to use the University of Texas' $13 billion endowment for private investment. Among the beneficiaries were the Carlyle Group, the arms investment firm tied to both George Bush Snr and the bin Laden family, and George W Bush's controversial Harken Oil drilling project in Bahrain."[8]

Political contributions

Data released by the Center for Responsive Politics in early 2004 revealed that Clear Channel executives donated $42,200 to Bush compared to $1,750 to Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry. Clear Channel's political action committee contributed 77% of their $334,501 in federal contributions to Republicans. [9]

In the 2006 election cycle, Clear Channel gave $492,250 to federal candidates through its political action committee - 40% to Democrats and 60% to Republicans. [2]

Lobbyists

According to The Hill, in late 2004 Clear Channel hired Brownstein Hyatt & Farber PC to lobby on "competition in the broadcast industry, media ownership and Federal Communications Commission oversight." Lobbyists working on the account included Thomas Hudson, "who served two years as chief of staff to Sen. John Breaux (D-La.)."[10]

In 2006 Clear Channel spent $2,520,000 for lobbying. $700,000 went to four lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists. [3]

Astroturf Pirate Radio

In 2005, to promote the formatting switch of a Clear Channel station in Akron, Ohio from "sports talk to progressive talk," Clear Channel launched "Radio Free Ohio" in a guerrilla marketing campaign. The New York Times wrote, "To the average listener, Radio Free Ohio has all the earmarks of pirate radio. For weeks, it sounded as if amateurs had been bleeding their voices into the broadcasts of stations in Akron, Ohio, owned by Clear Channel, the corporate radio giant. At the Web site www.radiofreeohio.com, there was a manifesto about "corporate-controlled music playlists" that took potshots at several local Clear Channel stations." [11]

"Radio Free Ohio" was outed by truly independent Ohio radio station WOXY, after a contributor to their online message board "learn[ed] that the [Radio Free Ohio] site is registered to Clear Channel, presumably as a promotion for an upcoming format switch at one of their Akron-area stations." [12] The Stay Free magazine blog then picked up the story, running excerpts of the "Radio Free Ohio" website, which was taken down on May 26, 2005. Stay Free editor Carrie McLaren wrote, "I supposed this isn't all that surprising coming from the company that pioneered the art of making generic, nationally produced newscasts sound as if they're local. ... I think of all this as good news: Clear Channel is so desperate to defend its turf that it'll even try joining the chorus of critics." [13]

Clear Channel later admitted they were behind "Radio Free Ohio." "Once we determined we were going to change the format, we tried to get into the mindset of people who would listen to this new station," said the company's Akron vice president and market manager, Dan Lankford. "Clear Channel, as I see it, is dedicated to entertaining radio and to getting results for our advertisers," he said. [14]

Clear Channel's Names Wisconsin Newsrooms After Corporate Sponsors

"Clear Channel Communications Inc. radio stations in Madison, Wis., and Milwaukee" are naming their newsrooms after corporate sponsors. "Starting in January, the news on WIBA-AM in Madison will deliver its report from the Amcore Bank News Center. ... About two years ago, WISN-AM in Milwaukee introduced listeners to its newscast from the PyraMax Bank News Center." The sponsorships are not exclusive and "will not impose strictures on the broadcasts." [15]

But a journalism ethics expert at the Poynter Institute said such arrangements create "the perception that the newsroom is for sale to the highest bidder." The Social of Professional Journalists' president asked, "How can you not wonder if a story about Amcore is told as tenaciously as a story about another bank might be?" The banks' news sponsorships come a year after revelations that 280 financial institutions used subsidiaries in other states to avoid paying Wisconsin state taxes. [16] [17]

Spin on Wikipedia

On February 5, 2007, a computer at Clear Channel Communications added a section on Senate candidate Al Franken's Wikipedia page to suggest that he plagiarized some of his writing. The edit was made anonymously but was picked up by the WikiScanner tool.[4]

Executives

With 2006 pay:

  • Lowry Mays (L. Lowry Mays), Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, $4,910,040[5]
  • Mark P. Mays, President and Chief Operating Officer, $9,311,996[6]
  • Randall T. Mays, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, $9,282,382[7]

[8]

Executives

Accessed August 2012: [9]

Contact

Clear Channel
200 Basse Road
San Antonio, TX 78209
Phone: 1-210-822-2828
URL: http://www.clearchannel.com

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch

References

  1. Profile, Hoovers, accessed July 2007.
  2. 2006 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed July 2007.
  3. Clear Channel lobbying expenses, Open Secrets.
  4. "Al Franken Article History," Wikipedia, February 5, 2007.
  5. L Lowry Mays, Forbes, accessed February 2008.
  6. Mark P Mays, Forbes, accessed February 2008.
  7. Randall T Mays, Forbes, accessed February 2008.
  8. Clear Channel International [ ], organizational web page, accessed August 1, 2012.
  9. Clear Channel International Executives, organizational web page, accessed August 1, 2012.

External links