Welcome to RBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 25, Issue 18, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Monday Morning January 28th, 2008

Radio News ®

Clear Channel orders deep cuts
as recession looms

Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan sent out an email Friday ordering all VPs, GMs and Business Managers to make immediate cost cuts to curtail Q1 expenses. This follows RBR's recent report on how soft national sales pacings were early in the quarter (1/23/08 RBR #15). Apparently the shortfall is deep and wide for Clear Channel as management struggles to keep profits up in preparation for the going private buyout by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital, which is expected to close by the end of the quarter. "No one anticipated how challenging Q1 would be for us and while the plans we put in place last Fall made sense then, clearly we are operating in a different environment and thus need an adjustment to our plan," Hogan told the troops. He has ordered a cut off of all spending for audience research as of February 1st, along with an end to all spending on advertising and promotion as of the same date. All new hires of sales people have been banned, effective immediately. Hogan also told the managers not to make any other new hires, even if they are already budgeted. If any employee leaves, they are not to be replaced unless specifically approved by the Exec. VP of Operations overseeing the market. Managers were also told to cut out any and all discretionary spending, such as travel, meals and entertainment. "If you can save it, do so," Hogan said.
| Read the entire email at RBR.com |

RBR observation: For a company that had already long ago cut expenses to the bone, further cuts could very likely create opportunities for competitors to increase audience and/or revenue share. But with the economy sliding into recession, it's not clear that very many will have the resources to grow as the radio industry giant shrinks. It will be hard to ramp up promotions and hire more sales people at a time when, in many cases, flat revenues will be seen as good news. For Hogan and his bosses, Mark and Randall Mays, the top priority right now is getting the Clear Channel buyout across the finish line. The stars appear to be in alignment, but anything that knocks the Q1 financial numbers severely off-course could be disastrous.

Clear Channel buyout to close in Q1
Thomas H. Lee Partners dealmaker Scott Sperling was quoted as saying that the company has plenty of financing sources and expects to close the 26.7 billion bucks buyout by March 31st. The FCC gave its formal approval to the license transfers last week and antitrust approval by DOJ is expected to come quickly. Clear Channel's stock has traded well below the 39.20 buyout price because of fears that Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital will be unable or unwilling to find financing for the buyout in the current marketplace and either walk away (which would carry a hefty penalty) or try to beat down the price. The stock price moved up, though, after the formal FCC approval and a Bloomberg reporter caught up with Sperling at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Sperling said his firm had every expectation that banks will finance the Clear Channel buyout and insisted that a lot of good financing sources are available. He said the current expectation is that the going private buyout will close by March 31st, the final day of Q1.

RBR observation: Despite all of the squeamishness in the market, neither Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain Capital, nor Clear Channel itself ever took any actions to add credence to the fears that this deal would not close. Rather, they have moved steadily ahead with all of the actions required to complete the buyout as advertised. Shareholders have already approved the deal. The FCC has now approved the deal. The DOJ approval has been applied for - and that should be just a formality. It's still all systems go and it appears likely that arbitrageurs who bought in on the market nervousness will get a nice return.

Two contested primary seasons spur cashflow
It's been a very long time since there was a presidential election without either an incumbent or a sitting VP in the race for one of the parties. And while both parties have been winnowing out most of the longshot candidates, there is still more than enough competition for convention delegates to keep the campaign funds flowing. As we've been predicting for months, many of the candidates are spending cash as fast as they can raise it, and diverting money away from staff paychecks and other frivolities as they struggle to simply remain in the race. However, the New York Times reports that the well-heeled campaigns of Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) are already spending cash on national ad flights. This is all thanks to Super Duper Tuesday. In years past, the primary schedule was strung out allowing candidates to focus on one or a handful of states, and when the states were in the handful category, they were often at least located near one another. The February 5 contest will feature over 20 geographically diverse states. A candidate can't be 20 places at once, so a strong advertising budget, along with effective ground forces, will go a long way to determining who emerges from that key date on the campaign calendar. From CQPolitics, here are the states holding election events that day: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho (D only), Illinois, Kansas (D only), Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana (R only), New Jersey, New Mexico (D only), New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah.

Imus targeted in
another legal battle

This time, the plaintiff is Flatsigned Press Inc., publisher of a book by President Gerald Ford. They claim Don Imus changed the script of a host-voiced ad, turning a paid-commercial into a joke at their expense. They want 4M. At issue is "John F. Kennedy: Assassination Report of the Warren Commission," written by Ford and released after his death. The book hit the streets in December 2006, and Flatsigned paid for an Imus-voiced ad in January 2007. Imus is said to have said the script was "cheesy," and that the publisher waited until Ford died to "unload" the books. The suit also charges that Imus punned the word "flatlined" with Flatsigned. The plaintiff says it lost sales after Imus had his fun with the spots, and that some stores refused to stock it in the wake of Imus' comments. Infinity Radio, CBS Radio and WFAN-AM New York are all named in the suit with Imus.

RBR observation: We know something about advertising. We've run photos of numerous personalities, group heads, consultants, brokers and other well- and not-so-well-known members of the greater broadcast community. Thus far, we have had no trouble at all refraining from drawing Groucho glasses and mustaches on a single one, even though technology makes such a feat easier every day. Imus's representation says the suit is without merit, and maybe that's correct, but common sense dictates that you don't mess with the client who's paying the bills in during the very chunk of time they paid for.

PSAs: Play to the player's culture
17 seconds an hour may not be much to brag about, but broadcast executives were proud of their charitable work, and said so at last week's look at the state of PSA's hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. KFF's Vicky Rideout noted that her very own organization has often had great success working with the PSA gatekeepers at various broadcast and cable outlets. However, there is never far more demand than there is inventory to be doled out, a problem which will never be solved.
| Read More... |

Wall Street Business Report TM
Hedge fund wants board seats at
Media General, NY Times

Harbinger Capital Partners has made good on its threat to try to place directors of its own choosing on the board at Media General (1/21/08 TVBR #13). The hedge fund has formally filed to nominate Eugene I. Davis, F. Jack Liebau Jr. and J. Daniel Sullivan to stand for election at the annual shareholders meeting set for April 24th - presumably opposing candidates nominated by company management. The New York Times Company also announced that it has received word from Harbinger that it plans to nominate four candidates for that board. Of the Harbinger nominees at Media General, Dan Sullivan may be familiar to RBR readers. He was CEO of Sullivan Broadcasting, a TV group, before it was acquired by Sinclair in 1998. Davis and Liebau are both money managers. Until recently, Davis was a director of Ion Media Networks.

Media General CEO Marshall Morton immediately fired off a letter to employees assuring them that "Harbinger cannot, under any circumstances, gain control of Media General." He also issued a press release charging that Harbinger seemed to be unaware of the actions that management has been taking to reduce costs and sell non-core assets. Morton said Media General management had made repeated attempts to contact Harbinger, but that the hedge fund manager "persistently refused to return our calls." Less is known of Harbinger's intentions regard the New York Times Company. The hedge fund has not made any sort of recent filing with the SEC regarding any stake it holds there and no board nominees have been publicly identified. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. issued a statement that the company would "review the nominations and make a recommendation to our shareholders in due course."

RBR observation: Harbinger cannot be anything more than an irritant on the board in either company, since both have two-tiered voting structures that guarantee voting control for the founding family. That is the Bryan family at Media General and the Ochs-Sulzberger family at the New York Times Company.

RBR News Analysis
Spotlighting the localism proceeding: Citizen advisors
The enhanced disclosure form is out there (go to RBR.com for a look), and it is just the beginning of what may become a laundry list of new obligations and responsibilities for broadcasters, based on what's being looked into in the FCC's NAL on localism. We'll look at a number of the proposals in the coming days. Today, we ask this question: Are you ready to meet four times a year with a "community advisory board?"
| Read More... |

Ad Business Report TM

Interep loins AdLab to launch "Noozbuzz"
AdLab Media, a broadcast ad agency and PR firm, unleashed its newest service this week. Dubbed "Noozbuzz", AdLab's audio news release platform allows a company or organization to proliferate its message nationwide in a matter of hours. AdLab has partnered with Interep, representing some 2,000 radio stations, for the launch. Barry Cohen, Managing Member, explains, "We are in the era of consolidated ownership of broadcast properties. Unfortunately, consolidation shifts the focus from satisfying the public (radio listeners) and the advertisers, to keeping shareholders and investors happy, since the broadcast conglomerates have incurred so much debt to acquire the stations. Translation: this invariably results in staff cuts. Very few radio stations have reporters on the street gathering news. Instead, they engage in what we call 'rip and read'. Most of what you hear comes from wire services. Worse yet, in some cases, they are reading it right from the newspaper." According to Cohen, Noozbuzz bridges the gap between companies and organizations with a story to tell, and stations needing on-air content. Cohen and his partner Bill Bird, a former news director, point to the increasing difficulty in getting through to newspaper reporters and editors with a traditional text press release.

Initiative scores Cadbury Schweppes
Initiative has won Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages' 150 million media account, following a review, according to an AdAge story. The review affected Cadbury Schweppes' beverage brands including Dr Pepper. Initiative beat the incumbent Mediaedge:cia, Martin Agency and Mullen in the review that did not include the company's Cadbury Adams candy business, said the story. Creative, via Y&R, was not affected.

Washington Business Report TM
One good hearing deserves another
The House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet is going to chew up the DTV Transition topic 2/13/08, almost a full year before analog broadcasts go from what is to what was. And it will be precisely to the minute a full day before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Telecommunications takes up the same topic. Neither committee has announced its slate of witnesses yet -- but don't be surprised to see considerable overlap.

Media Markets & Money TM
Salem about to spin all the way
out of Milwaukee?

Good Karma Radio just picked up Salem Communications' Milwaukee AM, WRRD, allowing Craig Karmazin the opportunity to place his Sports programming on a full time station. It's playing on an O&O daytimer while the sun's up, and moving to an LMAd station evenings. Meanwhile, Sentinel-Journal broadcast columnist Tim Cuprison says Salem's other station, WFZH-FM, is also about to be sold. The Contemporary Christian Fish-formatted station is said to be on its way to non-com Educational Media Foundation, which would replace Fish with its own K-Love network, another version of Contemporary Christian. Stay tuned.

here is another transaction brokered by Kalil & Co., Inc.

Media Business Report TM
Familiar names on "Best CEOs in America" list
The annual list put out by Institutional Investor magazine includes a number of CEOs whose names pop up in RBR and TVBR. Only one, though, is the CEO of a pure-play broadcast station operator - David Field of Entercom, who made the list for the second year in a row. Among diversified media/entertainment companies, Disney's Bob Iger was ranked #1, followed by Rupert Murdoch at News Corp., Richard Parsons at Time Warner, Les Moonves at CBS Corp. and Gregory Maffei at Liberty Media. In the cable and satellite media sector, the magazine's top pick was Brian Roberts at Comcast, which may come as a shock to the folks at Chieftain Capital, a big Comcast shareholder which is trying to give him the boot. He was followed by Charlie Ergen at EchoStar, James Dolan at Cablevision and Glenn Britt at Time Warner Cable. And finally, in the publishing and advertising agencies category, the top ranking went to John Wren of Omnicom Group, with Terry McGraw of McGraw-Hill #2. Then, strangely, Neil Smit of Charter Communications is listed as #3 - not that he's not a good CEO, but his company is clearly in the cable and satellite sector.

RBR observation: Wow, Smit must be an incredible CEO - the third best in a sector where his company doesn't even compete!

Diller and Malone head to court
John Malone's Liberty Media doesn't object to Barry Diller's plan to split IAC/InterActiveCorp into five companies, but Malone doesn't like the idea of the four new companies each having a single tier of stock, rather than IAC's two-tier structure that has Liberty holding super-voting stock. Malone had threatened to sue, but Diller beat him to it, asking the Delaware Chancery Court to rule that the spin-offs can go ahead. Then Liberty filed its own suit. Liberty's super-voting stock gives it control of IAC - except that it doesn't actually have that control. Liberty backed Diller in creating IAC and owns about 30% of the company. Diller, however, holds the proxy to vote those shares, with voting power of more than 60%, so long as he is CEO of IAC. As it stands, the four spin-offs from IAC (11/6/07 RBR #217) will each have a single class of voting shares, so Liberty, while it would be a very large shareholder, would not have voting control. So, while Malone, who is on the IAC board of directors, joined in the unanimous vote in favor of the five-way split, he doesn't like that provision. Under the dueling lawsuits, Diller is asking the Delaware court to rule that he has the right to vote the Liberty proxy however he wants and Liberty wants a ruling that Diller doesn't have the right to vote the proxy in a way that will dilute Liberty's voting power in the new companies.

Ratings & Research

Influentials are talking about vehicle brands
"Influentials," adults who describe themselves as either "very" or "extremely knowledgeable" about vehicles, are much more likely than ordinary consumers, referred to as "Non-influentials," to say they know many people who are also knowledgeable about vehicles. And, they are more likely to talk to other knowledgeable people about the vehicles they are considering. With this in mind, Harris Interactive decided to take a closer look at "Influentials" in the automotive market. Overall, one in five US adults (19%) fit into this category. Males (82%) dominate the Influentials. The average age of Influentials is 45, which is in line with Non-influentials. Influentials have higher incomes, with more than half (53%) earning $75,000 or more compared to 40 percent of Non-influentials. Close to three in five (57%) Influentials know many people who are at least very knowledgeable about vehicles, compared to just 18 percent of Non-influentials. Influentials talk about vehicles mostly to family (60%) and friends (58%), while Non-influentials are less likely to talk about vehicles with family (38%) and more likely to talk with friends (65%). While Influentials talk to each other about vehicle choices, Non-influentials actively seek out advice from Influentials. Slightly more than half (55%) of Non-influentials initiate conversations about their vehicle choices with Influentials "always" or "most of the time."

Monday Morning Makers & Shakers

Transactions: 12/10/07-12/14/07
The generally slow trading environment oozed along toward the end of 2007, maintaining a trading pace that a snail would be proud of. There was action in the larger markets, but it was of the niche variety. The bottom line is that the 14.5M in value dutifully recorded at the FCC during the second week of December was not enough to bring the two-week total to 50M. And there still hasn't been a television transaction.



Total Deals







| Complete Charts |
Radio Transactions of the Week
Salem gets down to Business
| More...
TV Transactions of the Week
Long pre-winter's nap continues

100M KBEH-TV Los Angeles CA (Oxnard CA, Ch. 63/DT 24, MTV Tr3s) and KMOH-TV Phoenix AZ (Kingman AZ, Ch. 6/DT 19, MTV Tr3s) from Bela TV LLC/Phoenix 6 TV LLC (Robert Behar, Michael Jesselson et al) to HERO Broadcasting LLC (Robert Behar, Marisol Messir et al). 90M cash at closing, 10M convertible note. Each station comes with various translators/LPTVs. [File date 1/7/08.]

200K WUFF AM & FM Eastman GA. 100% of Dodge Broadcasting Inc. from Steve Sellers (100% to 0%) to Stan Carter (0% to 100%). 20K cash at closing, 180K note. [File date 12/26/07.]

100K WYIS-AM/WYSC-FM McRae GA. 50% of Cinecom Broadcasting Systems Inc. from Steve Sellers (50% to 0%) to Stan Carter (0% to 50%). 10K cash at closing, 90K note. [File date 12/26/07.]

Stock Talk
Stocks end week with a loss
Traders decided to lock in some profits Friday after two days of gains. Also, investors saw that there are still economic concerns, despite the stimulus package put together in Washington. The Dow Industrials declined 171 points, or 1.4%, to 12,207

Radio stocks were also lower. The RBR Radio Index was down 0.295, or 0.4%, to 82.154. Beasley had a good day, up 7.4%. Regent was the worst performer, down 4.1%.

Radio Stocks

Here's how stocks fared on Friday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change




















Journal Comm.







Lincoln Natl.




Citadel* CDL
1.65 +0.02

Radio One, Cl. A




Clear Channel*




Radio One, Cl. D*




Cox Radio*












Saga Commun.*




Debut Bcg.




Salem Comm.*








Sirius Sat. Radio








Spanish Bcg.*








Westwood One*








XM Sat. Radio













*Component of the RBR Radio Index


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Below the Fold
RBR - News Analysis
Spotlighting localism
The proceeding - Citizen advisors as the enhanced disclosure form is out there...

Ad Business Report
Interep loins AdLab
To launch "Noozbuzz"...

Media Business Report
Diller & Malone head to court
Malone's Liberty Media doesn't object to Barry Diller's plan...

Media Markets & Money
Salem about to spin
All the way out of Milwaukee?...

Stations for Sale

Market your Stations For Sale
in our daily epapers.

Jim Carnegie
[email protected]

the Hot List

Issues on RBR.com focused and investigated, proving insight and ideas working now.

1. The Nielsen Company's 2008
Guide to the Super Bowl

2. Who needs HD Radio
Conditional Access?

3. Form for substance?

4. National pacings dismal for Q1

5. Fred Jacobs assesses
Jim Boyle's P1 advice to radio

Set RBR.com as your homepage and stay informed of exclusive info only on RBR.com.

Radio Media Moves

Weather radioman
Mike Pons has been named Vice President and General Manager of The Weather Channel Radio Network. He was formerly VP of strategy and corporate development for The Weather Channel Companies. In the radio post he succeeds Harold Lewis, who had moved to the position of VP of Consumer Applications Software.

Brown heads to the exit
After some 30 years there, ABC Radio Networks EVP/GM Darryl Brown is leaving the network to spend more time with his family, but will remain an adviser on Hispanic radio to ABCRN President Jim Robinson.

Getting digital
Bruce Haymes has joined The Nielsen Company as Senior Vice President, Product Leader - Digital Media. He will lead Nielsen Digital Media Manager, a new service that will enable companies to monitor, manage and profit from the distribution of traditional media content on the Internet. Haymes was formerly Corporate Vice President, Business Affairs at Time Warner Cable.

More News Headlines

Rick back on
the air today

Rick Burgess will be back on the air today as half of the syndicated "Rick & Bubba Show." Syndicator SSI put out a statement expressing "a sincere thank you to all affiliates, sponsors and radio industry friends for your compassion and kind words this past week to Rick and Sherri Burgess surrounding the passing of their youngest son Bronner."

TVBR - TV News

ABC stations fined
1.4M for bare buns

It took the FCC five years to decide that a February 25, 2003 episode of "NYPD Blue" broadcast on ABC Television was indecent, but late Friday the Commission announced plans to fine two ABC O&Os and 50 affiliates a total of 1,430,000 bucks because the program showed the bare buttocks of a woman as a young boy was depicted as entering a bathroom and discovering the woman nude as she was about to enter the shower. The fine was proposed for the 52 stations in the Central and Mountain time zones, where the program aired 9-10 pm, while it was broadcast after the 10 pm "safe harbor" began for the Eastern and Pacific time zones. The fine proposed for each of the stations is 27,500, which was the maximum possible in 2003. The current maximum is 325,000. The company hit hardest by the fines proposed by the FCC on Friday is Hearst-Argyle. It had six stations on the list, for a total penalty of 165,000. ABC itself is being assessed a combined fine of 55,000 for its two O&O stations in Chicago and Houston.

Don't look for ABC to be sending the government a check. "NYPD Blue, which aired on ABC from 1993 to 2005, was an Emmy Award-winning drama, broadcast with appropriate parental warnings as well as V-chip enabled program ratings from the time such ratings were implemented. When the brief scene in question was telecast almost five years ago, this critically acclaimed drama had been on the air for a decade and the realistic nature of its storylines was well known to the viewing public. ABC feels strongly that the FCC's finding is inconsistent with prior precedent from the Commission, the indecency statute, and the First Amendment, and we intend to oppose the proposed fine," the network said in a statement sent to TVBR. The American Family Association applauded the FCC action, asserting that the ABC stations "violated a sacred trust to serve the public interest." Similarly, Parents Television Council President Tim Winter declared that "the delay in getting here has been frustrating, but we are delighted by the decision."

TVBR observation: This is going to be a really tough one for the FCC to defend in court, so here is some free legal advice for the Commission's lawyers. First, make certain the judge has no access to a dictionary. This is absolutely critical to upholding your position that a buttock is a "sexual organ." Secondly, don't let the judge find out how arbitrary, vague and inconsistent your indecency standard has been over the past several decades. And finally, make sure he/she doesn't learn that not a single one of the complainants actually saw the broadcast, as they certified to the FCC. The monitoring sites for these zealot groups are in the Eastern time zone where the broadcast was within the safe harbor. But they ginned up complaints via email blasts that got followers to lie to the FCC and claim that they had viewed the broadcast in the Central and Mountain time zones.

RBR Radar 2008
Radio News you won't read any where else. RBR--First, Accurate, and Independently Owned.

Who needs HD Radio
Conditional Access?

Information and entertainment is undergoing a revolution. Just as digital video recorders, internet-based video distribution and the proliferation of video-capable mobile devices have changed our expectations concerning television, radio is now undergoing a similar transformation. Terrestrial radio is free and always will be. Although the options of pay-for subscriptions and pay-per-listen scenarios are emerging, they will always be just that - options. Conditional Access (CA), the encryption of programming and entitlement of authorized receivers, is a term normally associated with pay entertainment services like satellite or cable TV. However, as radio continues to evolve, entitlement and encryption are becoming more important. Why would an encryption technology be important to terrestrial digital radio?
01/25/08 RBR #17

Clear Channel approval released
RBR reported over a week ago that the FCC had voted unanimously to approve the sale of Clear Channel Communications to Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital for 26.7 billion, including debt assumption, but the paperwork finally came out last Thursday. Although they both voted for the license transfers, Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, the FCC's two members from the Democratic Party, expressed some misgivings.

RBR observation: Will Commissioner Copps ever wake up and realize that private equity firms have been radio and TV group owners for decades? In fact, Commissioner, these buyers that you refer to as "new entities" are, in fact, "no different than our traditional broadcast licensees" because entities structured and funded exactly the same way have long been among the traditional broadcast licensees.
01/25/08 RBR #17

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