Radio Consolidation –> Radio Corruption

  • Radio Consolidation –> Radio Corruption
    The LA Times has an article on payola at Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio station owner, and Radio One, the largest broadcaster of black-oriented music. What’s interesting in this case is that it’s a top executive of Radio One who is sounding the alarm bells on conduct at her own company and in the industry as a whole. At issue are radio promotions agents, who are middlemen operating between record labels and radio stations who make deals with stations to get songs played on air. These promoters often make payments of “promotion” money to stations in exchange for plays, which just barely sidesteps payola laws because the money doesn’t come directly from record labels. In the case of Clear Channel, the company has bought its way into the promotions business, and so is effectively double-dipping the money paid to promoters and to the stations, all coming from record labels looking to get their songs played on air.

    But that’s not the end of allegations of wrong-doing over at Clear Channel. The Wall Street Journal asks, “Is Clear Channel Running
    Stations It Doesn’t Own?”
    The company stands accused of operating more radio stations than it reveals to Federal Regulators, according to a March 7 article in the Wall Street Journal. By law, a company may operate and manage stations that it does not own as long as those arrangements are reported to the Federal Communications Commissions. These charges against Clear Channel come from a Washington DC based lawyer who represents radio station owners in Waco, TX and Chillicothe, OH. They are petitioning the FCC to deny Clear ChannelÂ’s application to purchase two stations in these cities which they claim the company has already been managing without properly notifying the Commission. By not making such management arrangements known to the govÂ’t, Clear Channel may have been able to avoid earlier anti-trust scrutiny of the number of stations owned by the company.

    Without doubt, Clear Channel Communications is the poster child for media deregulation, since it was the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which greatly loosened restrictions on radio station ownership, which allowed the company to vault itself into place as the largest radio operator in the country, almost overnight. The company has given no indication that it intends to do anything but fully exploit this market power, even if that means fudging regulations and laws. That Clear Channel is probably one of the most arrogant and flagrant abusers doesn’t mean that the same tactics aren’t being used to full advantage by other companies, though they smartly keep it less obvious. Such amassed power in any industry segment does nothing but invite abuse and will only get worse if not checked or reversed. These companies have no respect for you or me or the rest of their listeners — how could they when they auction our ears off to the highest bidders? It’s time to return the favor.


  • Attacking the Nation’s Largest Radio Giant 1/29/02
  • Now It’s Clear How Puff Daddy Is a Star 7/25/01
  • Payola and Radio Consolidation 6/5/01

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