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Clear Channel Communications

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Template:Infobox Company


Clear Channel Communications Template:NYSE is a media company based in the United States of America. Clear Channel, founded in 1972 by Lowry Mays, wields considerable influence in radio broadcasting, concert promotion and hosting, and fixed advertising in the United States through its subsidiaries. The company owns over 1,200 high-power AM, FM , and shortwave radio stations and more than 30 television stations in the United States, among other media outlets in other countries. The present head of the company is Lowry Mays and its headquarters is located in San Antonio, Texas.

The term "clear channel" comes from AM broadcasting, referring to a channel (frequency) on which only one station transmits. In U.S. and Canadian broadcasting history, "clear channel" (or class I-A) stations had exclusive rights to their frequencies throughout most of the continent at night, when AM stations travel very far due to skywave. WOAI in San Antonio was such a station. (The term is now becoming obsolete, not because of the company's choice of name, but because the exclusive rights of such stations have been trimmed back significantly.)

Contents

History

Clear Channel Communications purchased its first FM station in San Antonio in 1972. They purchased the second "clear channel" AM station WOAI in 1975. In 1986, the company purchased its first stations outside of San Antonio. In 1992, the US Congress relaxed radio ownership rules slightly, allowing the company to acquire more than 2 stations per market. By 1995, they owned 43 radio stations and 16 television stations. In 1996, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 became law. This act de-regulated media ownership, allowing a company to own more stations than previously. Clear Channel went on a buying spree, purchasing more than 70 other media companies, plus individual stations.

In a few cases, following purchase of a competitor, Clear Channel was forced to divest some of their stations, as they were above the legal thresholds in some cities.

Businesses

Clear Channel has purchased interest in, or outright acquired companies in a number of media or advertising related industries. This is not an exhaustive list.

Radio

Clear Channel has purchased stations from or acquired the following radio companies:

Outdoor advertising

  • Bought Eller Media, Universal Outdoor, and More Group Plc, giving Clear Channel outdoor advertising space in 25 countries.
  • Owns part of Italian street furniture company, Jolly Pubblicita S.p.A.
  • Owns BBH Exhibits, Yellow Checker Star Cab Displays, Dauphin, Taxi Tops, Donrey Media and Ackerley Media. Also owns an outdoor advertising company in Switzerland and Poland and a major outdoor advertising firm in Chile.

TV

First TV station purchased was WPMI-TV in Mobile, Alabama in 1988. They now own more than 30 additional stations, a few of these are independent (no-network affiliates).

Live events

  • Clear Channel owns SFX Entertainment, now known as Clear Channel Entertainment, providing venue and artist management. It owns, operates and/or exclusively books 135 live entertainment venues, including 28 in Europe, along with producing high profile events such as Super Bowl halftime shows. It also represents major music artists and sports stars.
  • US Touring Productions of Broadway Shows The Lion King and Mamma Mia
  • Owns United States Hot Rod Association, a promoter of tractor pulls and monster truck races.
  • Produces sporting events: 84 Lumber Classic of Pennsylvania; Legg Mason Tennis Classic; ADT Skills Challenge; American Century Golf Championship; THQ World Supercross GP; National Arenacross Series; IFMA Freestyle Motocross; and IHRA Drag Racing
  • Produces concerts and festivals: Ozzfest, Jagermeister Music Tour, Lollapalooza and Music Midtown (Atlanta)

News and information

Worldwide

  • Owns part of radio groups in New Zealand, Mexico, Norway, and Australia.
  • Owns outdoor advertising companies in Switzerland, Poland, Chile, Brazil, and Italy
  • Owns L & C Outdoor Comunicacao Visual Ltda., of Brazil.
  • Acquired Italian music promoters Milano Concerti and Trident Agency.
  • Owns Clear Channel Entertainment do Brasil Ltda, a Brazilian music promotion and production company
  • Owns the only airport advertising contract in South America.
  • In the UK, owns:

Controversy

As a large company operating in many different states, with numerous employees, Clear Channel has been involved in a number of highly visible controversies.

Market share

In the late 1990s and early 2000s the company became an object of persistent criticism. Critics claim that it has abused its market position and has operated in an unethical manner. FCC regulations were relaxed following the Telecommunications Act of 1996, allowing companies to own far more radio signals than before. After spending about $30 billion, Clear Channel owned over 1200 stations nationwide, including as many as 7 stations in certain markets. Competitors and listeners complained, but so far the company has been able to hold on to all of its stations after divesting a few following the acquisition of AMFM.

September 11, 2001

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., a list of songs apparently recommended to be removed from airplay as inappropriate during a time of national mourning was generated and circulated (See List of songs deemed inappropriate by Clear Channel following the September 11, 2001 attacks). A small list was initially generated by the Clear Channel office, though individual program directors added many of their own songs. A list containing about 150 songs was soon circulating on the Internet. The criteria for choosing the songs seemed to be unreasonable to many. A number of songs were apparently placed on the list because they had specific words such as "plane", "fly", and "falling" in their titles. Many people found it particularly ludicrous that John Lennon's "Imagine" was one of the songs listed. Clear Channel denies that this was a list of "banned" songs, claiming it was a list of titles that should be played only after great thought. Many individual stations did play songs from the list.

Banning music and political ramifications

After the country music band The Dixie Chicks criticized US President George W. Bush at a show in England, upsetting some music fans and politicians, some country music stations owned by Clear Channel Communications banned their music. Clear Channel claims this was solely the work of local station managers, DJs, and angry fans. Some critics of Clear Channel, including the editors of Rock and Rap Confidential, claim otherwise. They claim that Clear Channel executives, in a bid to gain support for various policies they were pushing in Washington, instigated the boycott among its country music stations themselves to send a message to other musicians that criticizing President George Bush's administration could hurt your career, through reduced airplay, etc. Clear Channel denies these accusations. Clear Channel stations were not the only radio stations to ban their music; another large media company, Atlanta-based Cox Radio, also did the same. See Dixie Chicks.

Live music recordings

In 2004, Clear Channel acquired a key patent in the process of producing "instant live recordings", in which a live performance is recorded directly from the sound engineer's console during the show, and then rapidly burned on CD so that audience members can buy copies of the show as they are leaving the venue. This is intended to provide additional revenue to the artist, venue, and promoter, as well as stifle the demand for unauthorized bootleg concert recordings made by audience members for profit. However, some media critics, as well as smaller business rivals, believe that Clear Channel is using the patent (on the process of adding cues to the beginning and ending of tracks during recording, so that the concert is not burned as a single enormous track) to drive competitors out of business or force them to pay licensing fees, even if they do not use precisely the same process. [1] (http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/_/rnd/1085518316199/pageid/rs.Home/has-player/true/pageregion/single1/id/6066617?rnd=1102422965968&has-player=true&version=6.0.11.847)

Indecency zero tolerance

During the nationwide crackdown on indecent material following the 2004 Super Bowl, Clear Channel launched a "self-policing" effort, and declared that there would be no "indecent" material allowed on the air. This led to the company's dismissal of several of their own employees, including popular and high profile hosts in a number of cities. Free-speech advocates cried foul. During this same period, Howard Stern was dropped from six Clear Channel owned stations in Florida, California, Pennsylvania, New York and Kentucky. By mid-year, rival Viacom brought Stern's show back to those six markets. In June, 2004, Viacom/Infinity Broadcasting Inc./One Twelve Inc. filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against Clear Channel for breaking of contracts and non-payment of licensing fees due to the dropping of Stern's show. Viacom is Howard Stern's employer. In the following July, Clear Channel filed a countersuit of $3 million dollars.

Concerts and promotions

Clear Channel has settled a lawsuit with a Denver, Colorado concert promoter, Nobody In Particular Presents (NIPP). In the lawsuit, NIPP alleged that Clear Channel halted airplay on its local stations for NIPP clients, and that Clear Channel would not allow NIPP to publicize its concerts on the air. The lawsuit was settled in 2004 with no monetary consideration, but Clear Channel has new rules regarding local concert promotion in Denver.

In 2002, Clear Channel was sued by the US Justice Department for not allowing people with diabetes to bring medically necessary supplies, including syringes used for insulin, into concert venues. Clear Channel changed their policy shortly afterward.

In 2004, Clear Channel was sued by a San Francisco, California man for charging a mandatory parking fee on every ticket sold for a venue, whether the person purchasing the ticket was driving alone, car-pooling, or using public transportation. This is still unresolved.

Stations on "Auto-pilot"

Clear Channel has pioneered technology (known as Prophet) that allows a DJ from anywhere in the country to sound as if he or she is broadcasting from anywhere else in the country, on any other station. This is called voice-tracking, and many smaller market stations are completely staffed by these "cyber-jocks", who may have never visited the town they are broadcasting in.

A side-effect of this trend to automate radio stations is that no one is there to warn people when disaster strikes. Clear Channel was partially blamed for the death of a man in Minot, North Dakota who tried to flee his home when a Canadian Pacific Railway train filled with toxic anhydrous ammonia derailed on January 18, 2002. No personnel were at the station, and thus could not inform people of the proper course of action, to stay indoors and to boil water. Clear Channel maintains that the city was slow to respond to the disaster and accepts no fault.

It is a controversial subject that is still debated hotly among those in the radio business.

Rejection of anti-war billboard

In 2004, Project Billboard, a non-profit liberal political advocacy group, filed a breach of contract suit against Clear Channel for the rejection by its outdoor advertising division of a billboard ad against the war in Iraq. The ad, intended for a 40-foot billboard Clear Channel manages in Times Square, was to have the slogan, "Democracy is best taught by example, not by war," along with a red, white and blue cartoon image of a bomb. Clear Channel's contract with Project Billboard only allowed the company to reject ads that were illegal or contrary to public morals; Clear Channel claimed that the image of the bomb was insensitive in New York City, the site of the most devastating of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Project Billboard claimed that Clear Channel's rejection was instead for purely political reasons. Clear Channel settled the suit by agreeing to an alternative featuring an image of a peace dove instead of a bomb.

Official Response to Controversy

Clear Channel officially denies most of these allegations. An article, 'Know the Facts (http://www.clearchannel.com/Corporate/corporate_ktf.aspx)' on its corporate website purports to address many of these concerns. However, some of its answers, particularly those about stations on autopilot, are evasive and fail to answer critics' main concerns.

Known Detractors of Clear Channel

As well as the website ClearChannelSucks [2] (http://www.clearchannelsucks.org) there are a notable amount of bands, and radio hosts, including Howard Stern that actively boycott Clear Channel. The most widely known of these are The Locust,as well as Conner Oberst, the leading figure behind Bright Eyes, who openly and continiously advocate the boycotting of all Clear Channel events, venues, advertising area and radio stations. They are so attached to this boycotting that it is affecting their April 2005 tour with the Mike Patton side project Fantomas

Employees

Top executives

Program hosts (through its Premiere Radio Networks subsidiary)

Famous people managed by Clear Channel or subsidiaries

Sports: David Beckham, Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, Brandi Chastain, Pedro Martinez, Prince Naseem Hamed, Jason Giambi, Gary Lineker, Miguel Tejada, Roger Clemens, Greg Norman, Nomar Garciaparra, Jerry Rice, Kobe Bryant, Warrick Dunn, Al Michaels, Trent Green, Dick Vermeil, Gail Devers, Michael Owen, Nasser Hussein, Michael Atherton, and Alan Shearer.

Former hosts

See also

External links and references

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