Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Future of Clear Channel

Dow Jones reported today that managing director Richard Bessler of T.H. Lee Partners went before the House Telecommunications Subcommittee and gave us all a glimpse into what Clear Channel will look like in the future.

"Clear Channel Communications Inc.'s (CCU) future path would be "best served" by focusing on fewer radio stations in fewer media markets"...

...said in prepared opening remarks..."that he thought Clear Channel would do well by deconsolidating itself".

"This streamlined approach, in our view, enables Clear Channel to more efficiently deploy and market its digital offerings in the face of competitive challenges from other digital platforms."

Sounds to me like Clear Channel will be a vastly different and smaller company once the deal closes. After reiterating that he expects the deal to close the market responded by sending shares of CCU up more than 6%.

What will be sold off, what he means by "more efficiently deploy and market digital offerings," and what it means for the remaining terrestrial products is not clear. But what we can be sure of is that more bone-crushing change is afoot.

12 years after consolidation began in earnest we are now starting to see the unwinding of some of these deals and I believe many more to come. Only time will tell if this turns out to be a good or a bad thing. Some would argue it could only be good; but I say temper those sentiments until we see the end results. My hope is we see investors come to the table with the desire to make a lot of money(I am a capitalist after all), but, also a desire to rethink, reinvigorate, reinvest in the medium that is capable to engage one's mind in ways a picture can't. To quote that cheesy network radio commercial, "people judge you by the words you use."

I don't know about you, but when I hear a voice on the radio (or podcast) the first thing I try to imagine is what that person looks like. I'm always wrong!

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