Should Rush move to Sirius XM or online? It’s certainly been a solution for Howard Stern and others. With advertisers bailing on El Rushbo, reports have been circulating that he may end up doing just that.
Not long after nearly 100 national advertisers and dozens more have dropped Limbaugh, post-Sandra Fluke, Limbaugh syndicator Premiere Radio Networks suspended the requirement to “run barter spots for two weeks, March 12th and March 19th, for our News/Talk affiliates only,” according to an internal memo from Premiere. The suspension includes Limbaugh’s and other talk shows.”
It was a nice relief valve for the advertisers who were literally under attack. But was it enough? Probably not. The idea that the controversy could actually become “the end of talk radio” is a comment from Rush himself. This is affecting advertising on other controversial talkers as well as even network news.
A new campaign — with the Twitter hash tag #BulliedbyRush — spearheaded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem, founders of the “Women’s Media Center” wants him off the air entirely. In an op-ed the three call on the FCC to take action saying that it’s time to “take back our broadcast resources” and get what they call “toxic, hate inciting speech” off the public airwaves.
Could this be an opportunity for SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Pandora, RadioIO or others?
Here is what a few of the analysts are saying, as reported by CNBC:
Brett Harriss, Gabelli & Co. :”Would be fantastic for Sirius if they could get Rush. They have plenty of capacity to add content to their offerings”.
Mattew Harrigan, Wunderlich Securities:
“When you get people to pay, you have to have people passionate about the program.” And in this case, “even if it’s a small percentage of the population, the economics might work. I’m not saying they would do it, but they would have to take a cursory look at it”
Doug Anmuth, JP Morgan:
“It’s early in their [Pandora’s] business model and they are inherently about music customization.” And while the company has “6-percent of the overall radio market … they’re focused on monetizing that explosive growth in hours through advertising.”
Martin Pyykkonen, Wedge Partners:
“SIRI might consider a Rush Limbaugh program — they haven’t shied away from controversy as seen with Howard Stern, although Limbaugh represents a higher level of controversy. SIRI’s business model and outlook, however, includes programming costs coming down or at least staying flat as a percentage of revenue — adding Limbaugh could drive programming costs up quite a lot…”
RBR-TVBR observation: SiriusXM and/or any internet site would love to get Limbaugh, as they would charge listeners to hear him—a premium channel for SiriusXM and/or an online subscription fee. Rush/Premiere/Clear Channel could also look at it as a major addition to the iHeartRadio offering. But wait a moment—Rush is terrestrial radio’s biggest anchor store. This would hurt the medium tremendously and do some immediate and probably permanent damage to the bottom line of his 600 affiliates. At this point, a major PR effort needs to be waged to keep him on the radio and back into the good graces of advertisers. Media Matters is not going to stop its efforts, so something more needs to be done than getting Rush on Twitter. This will eventually blow over if everyone sticks to their guns and gets the right PR firm on damage control. And yes, Rush needs to think a little more before uttering slanders such as he did with Sandra Fluke. Obviously, systems are in place to slap him down any time he makes a major fumble.