Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Clear Channel's profits not so clear anymore

It seems that newspapers are not the only media that are hurting (relatively speaking) these days. Big radio, billboard, and live entertainment operation Clear Channel has also seen its profits take a hit of late. The company's third-quarter profits dropped 21 percent. Of course, they're still making big profits, but not as big as before. As NPR's Morning Edition notes, Clear Channel is even trying to tinker with its bland, homogenized, boring, corporate-friendly image. They'd like to make their product more lively and appealing. But the company can't do more than tinker, since any serious change in strategy risks driving its profits down much further.

The NPR piece, by Neda Ulaby, also notes the grassroots drive for more lively "Free Radio," i.e., over-the-air broadcast radio that isn't as stagnant and boring as it usually is in this day and age (thanks in large part to Clear Channel and its clones). The threat from satellite subscription services such as XM and Sirius Satellite Radio is only going to grow, and these services could end up consigning over-the-air broadcast services to a desolate wasteland. It's clear that if "free" radio is to stay relevant and innovative, it'll have to shake off overlarge corporate owners like Clear Channel. The NPR piece also refers to a speech by Clear Channel president Mark Mays, who'd like to do away with the last vestiges of FCC ownership and public interest regulations, so it could grow even bigger (the company already own more than 1250 stations, including many of the biggest stations in numerous media markets, and it is by far the biggest owner of radio stations in the U.S.). If Clear Channel were allowed to buy up essentially everything else, it would simply ramp up its corporate strategy--of promoting bland, boring, standardized music--to an even greater degree. Clear Channel's part of the problem, not part of the solution. Its continued dominance will only facilitate broadcast radio's death spiral.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read an article about a year ago in Rolling Stone about Clear Channel's scary dominance. Not only does it own and regulate what is played on their radio stations, but it also owns many concert venues, and decides which artists are appropriate enough to play at these venues. It's good to hear that it's business isn't doing so well, but we need to get G Dubya out of office before he allows Clear Channel to buy up every market, so we have no choice but to listen to it.

Lucas Magyarics

11/22/2005 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is hard to not want to strive to fulfill the American dream of starting a huge business and making truck loads of money. Although when a company like Clear Channel grows too such a massive size, it seems they start to lose focus on anything but becoming bigger. Should Clear Channel revamp their way of radio, probably, by doing what is the hard part for the company. With some of the older forms of media fading away such as newspapers and radio, maybe it is just evolution. I am sure radio and newspapers will survive some way or another, just not without changes.

-Josh Gravelle

11/23/2005 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How anybody in Washington doesn’t see the problem that has been created by allowing the few to own the many is absolutely beyond me. Copycat tactics were bad enough when a network had a winning formula for a show and the others would rush to put something together that almost always paled in comparison and usually died (with luck) a quick death from cardiac-abstentia. The more insidious situation that we now have is the Murdochs of the business spreading their ideology through ownership of information dissemination mechanisms. If those in Washington can’t see the damage done to quality of life issues involved in this current legally allowed mundane world they are responsible for, they should be forced to watch cancelled (the REALLY bad ones) TV shows in a Dante inspired level of hell, in back and white and with a continual horizontal hold problem. With only a break in the visual action where they would be forced to listen to endless Michel Bolton songs and the dronings of inane, bad political pundits (describing their particular faults).

DJ

11/24/2005 6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that in our society, everything boils down to one thing, and that's money! Clear Channel has every right to buy up as many stations and company as they want. The owner of Clear Channel will obviously increase his revenue. However, there may be some downsides for the rest. His employees across the nation may not be bring in as big of a profit as the owner. Plus, us, the listeners have no other variables to listen to besides Clear Channel. This may turn some listeners off, as they have already proven that Clear Channel is producing some bland and boring material for the public.
-Casey Balog

11/29/2005 9:18 PM  
Blogger Craig Parzynski said...

If ClearChannel was allowed to by up the remaining radio channels it would surely create a monopoly that does not benefit the citizens of this country. Rather we would see an agenda that is directed at profit margins, rather than public interest. Though much of what is put onto the radio is a result of public demand, I think the radio would shit to what is mainstream. You would lose a lot of smaller markets to replace bigger marktets. However, if Clear Channel owned the rest of radio statiosn competition will be depleted and radio stations may in turn shift away from profit margins because they will be assures. I can see both sides of the arguement.


Craig Parzynski

11/30/2005 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also think that clear channel is gainin too much power and almost becoming a monopoly. Especially with the amount of radio listeners going down at such a rate. I for one used to listen to the radio all the time, when I was in middle school. Then some people invented a few new things. One of them being the "mp3" and the other, a cd writer. Napster came out, and anyone can download and burn to cd their own mixes and stuff. Then they came out with MP3 players, or cd players that played mp3 cds. You can hold more and more and more music. Then we saw the beginings of XM radio, and now Sirus radio. No commercials? All the music I want?? I'll take it!!! I hardly listen to radio stations anymore, I think its mostly because of all the commercials. I am sure the falling profits of smaller radio stations is the exact reason Clear Channel can buy them all up. If we didn't have all this new technology I think the radio stations would be more powerful and able to resist Clear Channel.

~Bradley Shepps

12/01/2005 10:46 AM  
Blogger Joe Calvano said...

XM and Sirius Satellite Radio is the new wave in of technology in the Radio Industry. This could be the spark that radio needs to maintain its presence in an evergrowing media market. There hasnt really been new technology introduced to radio since the creation of FM broadcasts. If Clear Channel was allowed to buy up these industries as well, I feel that the potential positive effect that satellite radio could have on the radio as a medium would be lessened.

-Joe Calvano

12/05/2005 10:30 AM  

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