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I seem to spend a lot of my time musing on ways to take back power for the people.  I assume you do to.  Our progressive/liberal activism's most central tenet is about trying to re-balance the equation of power.

So my latest scheme comes from the old adage: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

We'd all agree that Media Ownership is a huge issue.  So why don't we own some of the media?

Our target: Clear Channel

Clear Channel's current Market Capitalization is $14.39 Billion (or Market Cap), closing at $28.90 a share on Friday.

Through my crude understanding of Corporations, Market Cap is the number of public shares outstanding multiplied by the current stock price.  

To control a corporation outright, you need 50%+1 of the shares.

Using Yahoo's numbers and my understanding, we can calculate there are currently around 498 Million shares of Clear Channel.

That means to own a controlling interest you'd need to control 249 Million shares of stock.  At $28.90 a share, that would cost around $7.2 Billion.

So if you, me, and 10 Million of our closest friends could scrounge up $720 a piece, we could control a majority interest in Clear Channel.

Take this also with the fact that Clear Channel is currently involved in a lawsuit about a failed Private Equity buyout, and perhaps we all could get it for even cheaper.

Originally posted to pacified on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 12:53 PM PDT.


Taking over Clear Channel: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

72%88 votes
10%13 votes
17%21 votes

| 122 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Maybe not all of Clear Channel, but there will... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murphy, walkshills, Wufacta

    ...probably be some stations for sale, including the Mega station, WLW (?) in Cincy. I will have to search my notes. And come back here and post.

    •  Info on WLW and other for-sale stations (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills, SueDe, Mother Mags, rougegorge

      I picked this up from our WVKO 1580 AM blog:

      According to this...

      The U.S. Department of Justice said late Wednesday that Clear Channel
      Communications must sell its radio stations in Cincinnati and three
      other cities in order to be acquired by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee

      Based on that condition, the department approved the $19.5 billion
      sale of Clear Channel Communications to a private equity group.

      The approval is the final regulatory hurdle for the deal that is
      expected to close by March 31.

      In Cincinnati, Clear Channel owns WLW-AM, WEBN-FM, WKFS-FM, WOFX-FM,

      To which a freind in here Columbus posted:

      The jewel in the crown is WLW, one of the oldest and strongest broadcast stations in the United States... and under the guidance of corporatist management, a hotbed of sanctioned, corporatist extremism.

      Please understand that under the current climate, WLW will only be sold to a even more unethical and more faceless group of shiftless investors, whose assets will be increasingly housed offshore until the inevitable point will be reached that a corporation will be allowed to call itself "American" if it has as much as one dummy office in a strip mall (but Dennis Kucinich will still be locked out of Presidential Debates).

      Now... what in hell is it going to take to get the twin fascist entities of KKlearKhannel and Sinclair out of OUR town?

  •  The owners of the stock need to want to sell (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoenix Woman, pacified, AikoAdam

    Thats the snag in the plan.

    Primaries are officially sad.

    by jkennerl on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 12:59:47 PM PDT

    •  very true. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it is faulty to assume that there is 50% of the people out there willing to sell.

      I'd also say, it really wouldn't take 50%+1 to get a lot of power.  

      Also, I'm betting there are other types of shares besides common public.

      "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" - Barack Obama

      by pacified on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:01:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another snag (5+ / 0-)

      revealed by shareholder meetings is that most companies are under no constraints to listen to their shareholders' input.

      The board of directors relies upon their own counsel, and it is ALWAYS their own bottom line they are concerned about.

      So, until you can change the management, buying shares is not necessarily going to change anything.

      I have a lifetime of experience. It took every moment of my life to get that experience too. It was hard work, believe me.

      by spotDawa on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:07:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  owning stock (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoenix Woman, murphy, spotDawa, AikoAdam

        gives you votes for whom the board of directors is, no?

        I own direct stock through my 401(k) and I just mailed in my election choices for the Board.

        "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" - Barack Obama

        by pacified on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:08:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, did you get to nominate your choices, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Phoenix Woman, pacified, Pager, AikoAdam

          or just vote for them?

          I'm sure in theory it's possible to take over a company in this way, but it is not as a straightforward as simply voting in a new board member...

          I have a lifetime of experience. It took every moment of my life to get that experience too. It was hard work, believe me.

          by spotDawa on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:11:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i think you're correct (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            spotDawa, AikoAdam

            it was their choices.  Was there a write-in?  Ha!  I can't remember.  I voted No on them all, and against everything they wanted, and for everything they were against.

            Maybe that's how it'd work...  they say "we want these people" and if we all vote no, something else kicks int.

            Nothing is ever easy! :(

            "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" - Barack Obama

            by pacified on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:14:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My guess (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pacified, rougegorge, AikoAdam

              is that the bylaws are written in such a way that this would be little more than an exercise in frustration.

              There is such as thing as a proxy fight for control of a board, but it has to be a concerted effort by an organized entity who has the capacity to run the company.  The SEC gets involved and all of that.

              One things fer damn sure: Corporations are kingdoms, not democracies.

              I have a lifetime of experience. It took every moment of my life to get that experience too. It was hard work, believe me.

              by spotDawa on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:19:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If you get a certain percentage, it's (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                murphy, spotDawa, AikoAdam

                not that hard to get people on the board.  Proxy fights are expensive and difficult because the insurgents don't enough stock to vote someone in themselves.

                IIRC, 15% ownership is usually enough to vote in some directors.

                "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

                by burrow owl on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:43:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Institutional Investors (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Thats the snag in the plan.

      I don't think that's so much the snag, but one of many snags. Also the fact that ~78% of the CCU stock is owned by institutional investors, who won't be selling much, ever.

      AT&T offers exciting work for recent graduates in computer science. Pick up the phone, call your mom, and ask for an application.

      by Scipio on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:32:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, it's cheaper than buying a war. (4+ / 0-)

    So, you gotta management plan? Or at least a basic premise of what will be done and where it is directed? Progressive radio with lots on indie rock'n'roll?

    Radio is hot and immediate, emotionally involving, so you'd want a community interaction element as well as the national overview.

    That is, how to switch from "We Own the World" the current basic premise of Empire, to "We are the World" and what we're going to do about it.

    "Crazy people can be very persuasive." - Fox Mulder

    by walkshills on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:02:18 PM PDT

    •  yeah (0+ / 0-)

      start out doing nothing but cutting executive compensation!

      the plan wouldn't be about "making money" per se, but having control.  We donate to poltiicans and try to get them elected so they can exert power.  We don't expect a direct monetary return from our investment in politics.

      Nor would this.  It'd be about power.  

      I think that's what Rupert Murdoc realizes.  Even if your media company loses money, owning provides tons of fringe benefits one cannot directly assess through wealth.

      "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" - Barack Obama

      by pacified on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:04:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The new sound (0+ / 0-)

        the plan wouldn't be about "making money" per se, but having control.

        If you make that statement up front, you will undercut everything that you would be doing.

        The point should be that radio could be turned into something more popular, more interaction, more creative than it's current status as a megaphone for entrenched government and right wing interest blasting out political and religious propaganda.

        Use the media in terms of itself, which is dynamic. And, yeah, you'll need to make money to have a cash flow to cover costs. Radio stations operate off advertising dollars, so you'd have to develop a format that would have appeal to a somewhat different sector to bring in those dollars.

        Clear Channel - or any of the others - aren't just static machines for cash. The problem they do have is that they seem to attract that 30% of crazies we write about so much here. What the target should be are the 70% who are sane. And do that with a light and creative political touch. If you just substitute more political talk, forget it. That's maxed out.

        Rock'n'roll could not have been created without radio. Then the corps popped in when it got to be a commodity and soon the concern for notes was replaced by the hunger for dollars and it all went to shit. Then MTV picked up the visual gambit. Now MTV is a shadow of itself. So, the opening is there.

        There is so much music being generated, so much creative interaction with the new communication tools, that there is a real place for radio. But kids ain't gonna buy into it unless its got something really going on.

        Be aware that your best political tools are sometimes not directly political themselves; their power is in enabling a state of mind, a sense of freedom, and a sense of territoriality.

        "Crazy people can be very persuasive." - Fox Mulder

        by walkshills on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:18:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  wanna be the new CEO? (0+ / 0-)

          I agree on all your points.  That statement about "power not profit" was just about changing the mindset.

          I firmly believe in the Greek concept that everyone doing what they passionate care about are Artists.  These Artists just want to do what they care about, but in our society, the Businessmen always get in the way trying to squeeze out double-digit profits to horde.

          I'm not against making money, which you have to do, I'd be for changing the profit distribution, and not seeking to achieve only "big profits", but quality, passion, and letting these Artists be what they dream, instead of always worrying about the bottom line.

          "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" - Barack Obama

          by pacified on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:23:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure. Concepts I have. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Agree about changing the mindset. And the Greek concept. I've been a working artist some part of my life. In the newspaper business I've seen both the types who do it for passion and love, the higher motives, and those who are just trying to get to the top regardless. That distance and wall between management and workers doesn't have to be impermeable but many managements strike down the Chinese Wall between advertising and management which is detrimental to other skilled workers (devalued) and to the community which buys the advertising, which starts to slant away from covering city hall, etc., and into something more incestuous.

            Community shareholding and interactivity can work - see the Green Bay Packers - and there are other corporate forms like Costco that work well.

            Most radio stations here are merely selling machines with very little community interaction and no deep interests outside your pocketbook. They're ripe for a change.

            "Crazy people can be very persuasive." - Fox Mulder

            by walkshills on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:51:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I mis-read this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm reading along and I mis-read

        We donate to poltiicans

        as "We donate our politicians..." I thought, "Take mine. Please!"

  •  If we buy it out... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoenix Woman, pacified

    can we then destroy all the stations Fightclub style?  In fact, why even buy them in the first place?

    "To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence." - Sun Tzu

    by Mickey Thunder on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:02:21 PM PDT

  •  Once you start buying up (7+ / 0-)

    shares, the price will start rising, and it will end up costing you much, much more.  Error of static analysis, my friend.

    •  true (0+ / 0-)

      Part of me was thinking we could just start some entity that's goal this was, then you could sign up like your 401(k) for monthly purchases, and do it slowly over time.  

      The goal not being to make money, but to get power.

      Hopefully doing it over time would keep the price down, but I do concede that demand increases price.

      "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" - Barack Obama

      by pacified on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:06:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Speaking from San Antonio, (0+ / 0-)

        home of Clear Channel Communications, I would be willing to dump some money into an idea like this.  Too bad there's not enough time to pull it off - at least not with Clear Channel.

        A long range plan could eventually work, though, if you had an entity to manage the investments who understood that we the stakeholders would like it run on the order of a public utility, buying and investing as it grows.  Another "Working Assets" entity.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:33:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  we should take a long-term approach (0+ / 0-)

      might take a year or two

  •  Doesn't George Soros want to buy WLW? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pacified, spotDawa

    WLW has an unbelievable signal strength, in the 60's you could pick up the signal at night from FLA to NYC and east and west alike.  Maybe you can today.  Right now it is mostly right wing, Bill Cunningham's home, in fact.  It is the jewel in the crown for Clear Channel.  

    •  Funny, I was thinking about Soros (0+ / 0-)

      while reading this thread.

      If you want to pull something like this off, you need a George Soros behind the effort.

      I have a lifetime of experience. It took every moment of my life to get that experience too. It was hard work, believe me.

      by spotDawa on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:23:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •   Great Minds think alike (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
      •  We would need someone with stature & $ of Soros, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AlanF, bluestateblues

        But I have heard Soros interviewed about this topic, and he is unfortunately not interested in terrestrial radio at all. He thinks it's passé. He is interested in the newer, "sexier" technologies like the internet.

        It has been very difficult to get wealthy progressives, liberals, democrats to understand that we need to buy our own infrastructure. We cannot rely on the kindness of Clear Channel or other big media outlets any longer. And we cannot rely on the FCC or Congress to roll back all of the media consolidation since at least 1996's Telecommunications Act. It could not happen quickly enough!
        We in Boston, are in process of trying to buy our Boston Progressive Talk, so I know what I'm talking about.  

        Thanks for writing this diary, as we need to keep this subject afloat!  

        Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.
        attributed to both AJ Liebling & HL Mencken

        by rougegorge on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 08:45:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hopeward bound

      create a consortium to buy WLW to fire Cunningham, that would be a start in the right direction.

      I like the idea of a people powered media outlet. The blogosphere should really be just the beginning.

      In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

      by Alise on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:33:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Fairness Doctrine is the way to correct the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pacified, bronte17, dharmafarmer

    uneven playing field. It lapsed under Ronald Reagan, although I think Jimmy Carter was partly responsible too. It was the single reason Rush Limbaugh's career was made.  
    There are Senators who are trying to get in re-enacted.  Let's help support their efforts, that's something tangible we can do with little dollars.

  •  Fairness Doctrine made equal time for both sides (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of an issue necessary because it was understood that the airwaves belonged to the public and if you were going to use them for free, you had some responsibility to use them fairly.

  •  Sean Hannity is scared of the Fairness Doctrine (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    he rails against it, it's his biggest fear because it would be the end of his career.
    I suspect most progressive radio heads would be fine providing equal time to the opposite viewpoint because they are confident in their argument.

    •  They're also fine w/ it because they'd directly (0+ / 0-)

      benefit.  They'd be the ones that righty hosts would give oppo slots to.  

      "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

      by burrow owl on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:46:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How many laws can you violate in one post? (5+ / 0-)

    I kid, of course.

    You or your group will be need to publicly disclose its ownership stake within 10 days of acquiring 5% of the stock of form 13-D.

    Individuals or groups who acquire 5% or more of a company must file publicy with the SEC a 13-D, listing the members of the group, the source of funds, and their plans for their ownership, including whether they seek to exert control over management.

    Once your plan is in the open, the price might increase if the market views the group and its plans as credible.

    If your plan is to explicity seek voting control through the puchase of shares up to a specific price, you will be making a tender offer, which requires other disclosures.

    About 40 years ago, the Williams Act, amending the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, was passed to, in part, protect shareholders from unannouced or "creeping" takeover plans such as the one outlined in your post.

    •  thank you for this! (0+ / 0-)

      crazy that there are all those laws.  I guess they make sense.  

      That sound you hear is my dream deflating. :P

      Wanna be our lawyer?

      "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" - Barack Obama

      by pacified on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:32:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Presumably, this wouldn't be the effort of one (0+ / 0-)

      entity, but a lot of similarly minded people.  The registration requirements turn on legal identity, not consensus among different people.  So the registration requirements would not be triggered, IMHO.  

      "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

      by burrow owl on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:47:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Stations can create their own Fairness Doctrine. (0+ / 0-)

        If you want to be fair and impartial, there's nothing stopping you. You don't need a law for that.

        Those that don't want to be fair and impartial merely reveal their own agenda and intent.

        "Crazy people can be very persuasive." - Fox Mulder

        by walkshills on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:54:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  awwwk, this posted in the wrong place. (0+ / 0-)

          However, you are correct burrow owl. If there are no implicit arrangements, no legal entities, then as long as the percentages stay below 4.99% it could work.

          However, even posts like this could be construed as "group intent" by an evil (sic) DoJ or FCC.

          The smarter plan would be to pick up a distressed station, probably not one like WLW, work out the plan and programming and make it work. Then accrue.

          "Crazy people can be very persuasive." - Fox Mulder

          by walkshills on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:58:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The members of a group (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burrow owl

        do not have to be part of one entity.

        For example, two investment funds with no co-mingled funds and no common interest other than increasing "value" at a subject company must file together a 13-D as a group once they reach the target level.

        Having said that, plenty of people make a living defending clients against SEC allegations of violations of securities laws, including failure to file 13-Ds, undisclosed groups, etc.

        •  Interesting. A quick scan of caselaw, then, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          science first

          suggests that the burden is on a group to prove, based on facts and circumstances, that they're not a group acting in concert.  Is that the gist?

          "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

          by burrow owl on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 02:17:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Burden (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            burrow owl, Pager

            Well, that's how it operates in practice.

            Once the SEC seeks a "voluntary" submission of information and answers in response to staff questions, mentioning, by the way, that the SEC is not now, but may in the future, use a subpoena to comple the answers, you certainly feel that the burden is on you and not the government.

            If you have one email in the file from investor A to investor B saying, "we should get a 5% stake in XYZ and have a talk with management," you'll wish you had filed as a group.

            I think Warren Buffett's observation is a good one:  "There is plenty of money to be made in the center of the court. There is no need to play around the edges."

  •  Don't be discouraged, unlikely stories you know.. (0+ / 0-)

    the end result you're looking for is fairness in the media, and the end to the right wing talk machine that spews hate, lies and distortions.  

  •  Bang for your buck (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl

    The Wall Street Journal sold for about $5.6bn.

    The New York Times Company has a current market value of less than $3bn, but would sell for far more, if available.  But NYT has a dual class of ownership structure, with voting firmly under family control.

    If I were interested in acquiring an influential platform within the traditional media realm, I'd think about properties other than Clear Channel.

    Now, if I really wanted to shake things up in American politics, I'd look to buy or build another property with wide readership and almost zero marginal cost as it expands and builds its reach.

    I wonder: what Kos Media, LLC would cost?

    Or, if you want the maximum readership right away, and seek to convert a "conservative" outlet to a "liberal" outlet, how much for the Drudge Report?

  •  Here's what we need to do... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    First you have to drive down the price of those shares.

    Tom Hicks had the use of the UT trust money to buy himself these radio stations and build Clear Channel.

    But, the music sucks, it's generic radio across the entire country no matter where you go... it's all the same "canned" format.  Boring, repetitious and awful music.  They've even outlawed certain songs and musicians... like "Mack the Knife" and the Dixie Chicks.

    No way do you pay that kind of money for sucky radio stations.

    So, start a campaign to draw attention to the suckiness of Clear Channel and be loud about it to the advertisers.

    Bring down their market share.

    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

    by bronte17 on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 01:57:50 PM PDT

  •  Your numbers are two low. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PBCliberal, Tuba Les

    If you, me, and ten million people started buying Clear Channel stock en masse, it would cause a massive run up in the stock price.  It's supply and demand.  When you're trying to buy that much stock, the stockholders get wise and start asking for more money.  I'd multiply the cap price of Clear Channel by at least three if you want to ballpark the real cost of a hostile take over.

    •  And at the end of it all... (0+ / 0-) get a whole bushel-basket full of old technology, which is what caused the price of these things to fall before Clear Channel and its predecessors like Paxson Communications came in and artificially inflated the price through their buyouts.

      Before the grand consolidation started taking place, fueled by the end of reasonable ownership caps, you had powerful AM radio stations dark in major markets like Denver.

      This is an attractive idea from the standpoint of power. But its a really poor one from the standpoint of acquiring something of value. We'd be far better off to take the money and build a really phenomenal multimedia presence for liberals on the web. We already have the pieces of it. Imagine what Democracy Now could do if it had the modern day equivalent of the kind of money NBC gave its news department in the 1970s.

      "If I live I'm coming back some time, and then we'll go right on practising law as if nothing had ever happened." -- Lincoln to law partner

      by PBCliberal on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 05:58:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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