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Payola probe hits Clear Channnel, Entercom

by Paul Heine and Katy Bachman, Mediaweek

Clear Channel has confirmed that it has received a subpoena from Eliot Spitzer, as part of the New York State Attorney General's investigation into allegations of payola in the radio industry.

In a statement, the company said it is "cooperating fully with [Spitzer's] investigation into the industry's use of independent promoters and associated allegations of 'pay for play.'"

In the statement, Clear Channel also noted how it severed ties with independent promoters in April 2003 "to avoid even the appearance of impropriety," and expressed confidence that "the investigation will show the company is in full compliance with the law."

Clear Channel isn't the only company to be subpoenaed as part of the investigation. Both Entercom and Infinity also received subpoenas. Contacted by Billboard Radio Monitor, Infinity declined to comment on the report and officials at Entercom weren't immediately available to comment.

All three companies have recently terminated programmers over allegations of improper relationships with record companies.

Clear Channel seems to be in a rush to clean up its act...   as a member of the concert & promotions side of the industry, I can attest to CCE's strongarm tactics..   fortunately there is a groundswell of revulsion against Clear Channel, no one likes dealing with them, they're just forced to.

This is just the first in a series of Clear Channel - Media consolidation diaries, I promise.  Let's just say I did not have a good day today with my "friends" at the local Clear Channel office.   Nope.  not a good day at all......

Update [2005-2-25 2:14:20 by cdelia]: For those readers just getting familiar with the whole Clear Channel problem, may we recommend two quite well-written and thought-provoking series..

Big World: how Clear Channel programs America by Jeff Sharlet

Radio's big bully by Eric Boehlert

Originally posted to cdelia on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 09:43 PM PST.


Media Consolidation: Serious Problem or Bogeyman?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Salon (4.00)
    Man, it's hard to keep up with Eliot these days! Never know what evil giants he'll look to slay next.

    For the definitive - and gripping - guide to Clear Channel & payola, the absolute must-read is Eric Boehlert's series in Salon.

  •  Nice diary (4.00)
    Elliot Spitzer is becoming my idol.

    Here's to many more bad days for Clear Channel!

    Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. - Orwell

    by TracieLynn on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 09:44:05 PM PST

  •  learn something new every day (3.80)
    all these years in the biz and I didn't know this little factiod:  check it.

    from wikipedia:

    "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."

    chilling, eh?

    Clear Channel ~ "the harder they come, the harder they fall.."

    by cdelia on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 09:48:05 PM PST

    •  50 Thousand Watt (none)
      clear channel stations were the standard back in the day, WHO Des Moines, WABC NY, KDKA Pittsburgh, WKBW Buffalo, etc.. They were the only station on that frequency that was allowed to transmit at night. Any other station on that freq was restricted to daytime and was usually 5 thousand watts or less.

      "One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal." Bill Moyers

      by Lahdee on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 11:12:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  **Dancing in the street** (4.00)
    Eliot doesn't take on an industry unless he knows he has the goods, and he hasn't misfired yet.  If he's taking on the 800 lb. gorilla of commercial radio, he knows he's got em by the antennae.  

    I can't wait to find out what type of settlement he has in mind to cram down their throats.  This guy is almost too good at what he does to let him head off to the Governor's Mansion in Albany.  Almost--I can't wait to see what he accomplishes there.

    Now, if only he'd go after the cable companies next....

    You can never be too rich, too thin, or too cynical.

    by Dallasdoc on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 09:53:23 PM PST

  •  He finds new ways (3.66)
    to create friends around here. NY Gov is a cinch and then? Too bad he's not from the South.

    Of course, a law and order Governor can't hardly go wrong no matter where he's from.

    •  If It Gets Him Off These Prosecutions, (4.00)
      his majority funding and votes may come from Republicans.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 10:47:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  another great article on Clear Channel (none)
    with a revealing look at former Republican congressman, J.C. Watts, now a Director at Clear Channel..

    Clear Channel ~ "the harder they come, the harder they fall.."

    by cdelia on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 10:50:19 PM PST

    •  "dog food" analogy (none)
      Harper's Magazine
      "From Denver, I went to Oklahoma City to meet with former congressman Julius Caesar "J. C." Watts, who had recently been named to Clear Channel's board of directors. During the hour and a half we spent driving around and listening to the radio in his shiny new black Cadillac Escalade, the congressman referred to Americans as "dogs" five times. Not in the slang sense--Watts loathes what he calls that "hip-hop be-bop rap" stuff--but in the idiom of business. He was trying to get at what business is all about. He wasn't concerned about Clear Channel's overwhelming control of live music, he said, because "the dogs are eating the dog food." He said that the reason talk radio is so conservative is that "the dogs ain't eating the dog food" offered by liberals: "You can't force bad dog food on people!"

      A former football star for the Sooners and a Southern Baptist preacher at a church called Sunnylane, Watts has an easy manner that can nevertheless be disconcerting, as when he took both hands off the wheel at 75 miles an hour, turned, and gripped my arm, saying, "I'm ready to go to the American people with my dog food."

      Clear Channel ~ "the harder they come, the harder they fall.."

      by cdelia on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 10:53:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A headline to warm any liberal's heart. (none)
    "Eliot Spitzer subpeonas Clear Channel".

    That's the second best headline I've read today.  Right after "Canada says no to missile defence".

    I can't say enough good about Spitzer.  He is the embodiment of smart, savvy, acccessible, market-oriented new-economy liberalism.  After the AG's recent fanastic press club speech on the public sector's duty toward promoting honest and transparent capitalism, this decision to go after Clear Channel couldn't be sweeter.  It just makes political and thematic sense on so many levels.  Give me a liberal who'll defend the monitoring role of government -- who'll argue for it in front of denizens of the RWCM -- and then turn around and go after the heart of the right wing machine, Clear Channel.  Not just with words either, but with the subpeona and post-subpeona press release that strikes fear because it will plunge your stock.  The thing about Spitzer is I really think he believes that if you work within the system, you can transform it.  That kind of optimism, combined with brains and the tools to apply it, is what's missing from the party today.

    There is no more exciting Democrat out there.  Lucky New York.  Hopefully, lucky America in a few years.

    The beginning of empire is the end of commonwealth -- Leon Fuerth

    by tlaura on Fri Feb 25, 2005 at 12:36:52 AM PST

  •  I'd rather he stays AG (none)
    where he can continue this sort of actions, than runfor Gov. Granted, this comes from the perspective of  someone who hasn't lived in New York for a long time.

    The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

    by ben masel on Fri Feb 25, 2005 at 01:31:18 AM PST

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