Archive | January, 2003

More Reports from the Senate Hearing on Radio Ownership: Clear Channel Gets Skewered

Both Wired News and Reuters have more fleshed out reports from yesterday’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing on radio ownership, and both show that Clear Channel CEO Lowry Mays got (deservedly) grilled and charbroiled. In one exchange, documented by Wired News,

“(Senate Commerce Committee Chair) McCain also took on Clear Channel over its presence in San Diego. While federal rules prevent a company from owning more than eight stations in a market, Clear Channel has the maximum in San Diego while owning five in Mexico that broadcast into San Diego.

‘It’s clearly in violation of the intent of the law,’ McCain said.”

Indeed, it seems like things were pretty hot for Lowry Mays in there, as Reuters notes that “Clear Channel had few defenders besides Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and National Assn. of Broadcasting president-CEO Eddie Fritts.”

I still haven’t had time to watch the video of the hearing (which is 3 hours long), but I’ll probably try to extract some choice tidbits for next week’s mediageek radio show.

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Lies and Damn Lies

A small blip on today’s Associated Press radar: “Clear Channel Defends Size of Company”

“WASHINGTON – The head of a major radio company is taking aim at charges that his company engages in anti-competitive behavior.

Lowry Mays of Clear Channel Communications told a Senate panel that the competition in the radio industry is “robust.”

He says his company is large, with more than 1,200 radio stations, and he acknowledges more could be acquired in the future. But Mays stresses big isn’t necessarily bad.

Also, Mays insists his company has “zero tolerance” for “payola,” payments to radio stations to promote artists or get songs played on the air. …”

Did Mays say this with a straight face? I’ll have to check the video.

May “zero tolerance” for “payola” is like Dick Cheney’s “zero tolerance” for Enron’s accounting practices, or Manuel Noriega’s “zero tolerance” for cocaine trafficking.

Now I’m dying to hear the Senators’ reactions to being yanked so hard and blatantly.

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Economist Fawns Over Mikey Powell

The Economist conducts a brief, but fawning profile of FCC Chair Michael Powell. Their loves stems from the estimation that

“Unusually for a regulator, Mr Powell seems to want, gradually, to write the FCC out of the game. For that, he deserves more respect than Americans usually shower on their benighted government officials.”

All I can say is that I’ve tackled the illogic of this notion, and the double-speak term of “de-regulation” in general, before:

The communications industry is scared of nothing more than a free market. A free market would decimate the local bell monopolies, would kill cable companies, and would decimate the broadcast industry. Every single one of these industries absolutely relies on the federal government to stake out boundaries and territories, allowing only a few to have such prizes as broadcast licenses, while keeping the millions of would-be competitors out. The last thing any commercial FM wants is for the FM band to double or triple in size letting a hundred more competitors onto the airwaves. Man, they need regulation to keep raking in those monopoly profits.

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