Senators grill Clear Channel CEO
>~~there were others there that night, who would have said, if asked, that opera was a collection of nosensical cat screechings, that they would much rather pass three hours in a dentist's chair. These were the ones who wept openly now, the ones who had been so mistaken.~~
> Clear Channel Chief Gets Earful at Hearing
> Thu Jan 30,11:36 PM ET
> Add Entertainment - Reuters/Variety Industry to My Yahoo!
> By Pamela McClintock
> WASHINGTON (Variety) - Clear Channel was roughed up on Capitol Hill
> Thursday, with several lawmakers accusing the sprawling radio giant of
> refusing to play the songs of artists who don't use its concert promotion
> Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), one of those testifying before the Senate
> Commerce Committee, said he has pressed the Justice Dept. to investigate
> whether such business practices by a company as large as Clear Channel
> represent an antitrust violation.
> Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) convened the hearing to discuss massive
> consolidation of the radio business since the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
> The most staggering of all has been that of Clear Channel, which has grown
> from fewer than 100 radio stations to more than 1,200. All told, Clear
> Channel collects one quarter of all radio ad dollars. In addition to radio
> and concert promotion, it has a thriving billboard biz.
> "I am deeply concerned that radio industry consolidation and related
> activities are hurting songwriters, musicians, recording artists, concert
> promoters, radio listeners and the music community as a whole," Berman
> said. "I believe the negative effects of radio industry consolidation
> merit serious congressional scrutiny and should spur investigations by the
> DOJ and the Federal Communications Commission (news - web sites)."
> Repeatedly during the congressional hearing, Clear Channel chairman-CEO L.
> Lowry Mays denied the San Antonio-based company engaged in antitrust
> practices, such as encouraging payola, whereby radio stations are paid by
> an indie promoter to play certain songs.
> "We have zero tolerance for pay-for-play. Every one of our DJs signs an
> affidavit to that effect every year," Mays said several times.
> FALLING ON DEAF EARS
> But Clear Channel had few defenders besides Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and
> National Assn. of Broadcasting president-CEO Eddie Fritts.
> The celeb witness testifying at the packed hearing was singer-songwriter
> Don Henley (news), who said he knows of artists who were blackballed by
> Clear Channel stations after refusing to tour with the company's promotion
> "As long as our audiences want to hear Mr. Henley's music, he has no
> threat of retribution," Mays assured Henley.
> Mays also said the promotion division represents only 7% of the company's
> revenues. When pressed, Mays said that percentage translates into $100
> million. "Yes, we are a big company," he added.
> Too big, said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who earlier this week
> introduced the Competition in Radio & Concert Industries Act. The bill
> would give the FCC (news - web sites) a mandate to pull the license of
> radio stations that use "cross-ownership of promotion services or venues"
> to muscle artists or industry rivals out of the market. More broadly, it
> would direct the FCC to keep a close eye on market concentration and put a
> cap at current levels on local-market ownership, preventing future
> MONEY CHANNEL
> The legislation also calls for stricter interpretation of federal payola
> regulations to prohibit a station from influence via payments from record
> labels or independent promoters without on-air disclosure of the
> Feingold also wants the FCC to issue an annual report on radio and concert
> industry compliance with the new rules, soliciting input from independent
> sources and the public.
> Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said "galloping" media consolidation must be
> stopped. He also asked Mays to submit written answers to the concerns
> brought up at the hearing.
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- To this bit of legislative teeth-gnashing I say, "Whatever."
As usual, Congress collectively plays the part of Claude Rains
in Casablanca: "I'm shocked ... SHOCKED that Clear Channel would
abuse its power." How many of these jackasses voted for the
Telecommunications Bill of 1996 - or support it now even if they
weren't around to vote then - which Clear Channel used as its
launching pad for radio domination? In 1996 no one entity could
own more than 40 stations nationally. The bill passed with Repub
and Dem collusion and surprise, surprise, Clear Channel now owns
1240 stations and five OTHER radio groups each own over 100
stations. Big business being a zero sum game, the Future of
Music Coalition says that 1700 local radio station owners have
been forced out of the biz since 1996.
So sure, it would be nice if all of our favorite local bands got
on the bill with the big boy headliners, but that's a side dish.
The main course is why radio functions on the same model,
affecting entire communities and not a localized subset of same,
and only a few congressmen have the balls to address that?
On the other hand, I love the image of ClearChannel's CEO
finding out that the one guy who supports him is Trent Lott.
"Who did you say is backing me up? Oh for fuck's sake, can I
just pay someone off? That's always worked in the past."
A conservative is a man who is too cowardly to fight and too fat to run.
A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.
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- --On Friday, January 31, 2003 10:28 AM -0800 Lance Davis
> So sure, it would be nice if all of our favorite local bands gotBingo, and these hearings will not produce legislation to change said
> on the bill with the big boy headliners, but that's a side dish.
> The main course is why radio functions on the same model,
> affecting entire communities and not a localized subset of same,
> and only a few congressmen have the balls to address that?
model. Between the tacit approval of Congress and Michael Powell's
enthusiasm, I'd bet we will see more consolidation over the next couple of
years. It'd be fun to see media ownership become a campaign issue in 2004,
maybe Tom Petty or Chuck D can do someone's ads.
radio is cleanin' up the nation,
- Also realize what a bind that many artists are in because Clear Channel
owns not only so many radio stations across the country but also
Ticketmaster. This means that they can punish anyone with decreased
airplay or logistical problems of mounting a tour. Even if there isn't
documented cases of this (please tell me if I'm wrong!), the mere THREAT of
such a thing is sufficient enough to silence people in the business.
Perfect Sound Forever
online music magazine with warped perspectives
- --On Saturday, February 1, 2003 12:16 PM -0500 Perfect Sound Forever
> Also realize what a bind that many artists are in because Clear ChannelIf memory serves, this conflict of interest was Sen. Feingold's initial
> owns not only so many radio stations across the country but also
> Ticketmaster. This means that they can punish anyone with decreased
> airplay or logistical problems of mounting a tour. Even if there isn't
> documented cases of this (please tell me if I'm wrong!), the mere THREAT
> of such a thing is sufficient enough to silence people in the business.
objection to Clear Channel's expansion. In a different time, the Federal
Trade Commission might have nixed this development, but we live in the Age
NPIMH: Camper Van Beethoven, "Broadcasting Live From the
yodyne Coliseum, Strom Thurmond City, Mars"