Well-known minion of Satan, Clear Channel CEO Lowry Mays, got a good grilling yesterday:
- Mays flatly denied allegations from rock star Don Henley and other critics that the media empire’s 1,200-plus stations have muscled out smaller rivals, taken bribes to play songs, or engaged in other anti-competitive practices.
Facing sharp questioning from the Senate Commerce Committee, Mays painted Clear Channel as a fierce competitor that has thrived due to its careful audience research since media regulations were relaxed in 1996.
“It’s just common sense that each one of our radio stations has to be serving our local communities,” Mays said.
Since 1996, Clear Channel has grown from fewer than 40 stations to the point where it now takes in roughly one in four radio advertising dollars nationwide, and also oversees rapidly growing concert and billboard businesses. Critics say it has created a bland network of sound-alike stations that vary little from city to city.
They also have charged it with using its radio market power to squeeze out rivals, jack up concert ticket prices, and steer business to its concert-promotion arm.
….”Payola is not new. It’s always been here,” said Henley, who also accused Clear Channel of blackballing artists who did not tour with its concert-promotion arm or play for free at benefit shows put on by its radio stations.
“The company determining whether or not a record is played on the air may be the same company that owns the venue and books the tour,” he said.
….Mays acknowledged taking payments from “independent promoters” who Henley and others accuse of providing bribes for radio play, but said the alleged middlemen were paying for access to programming data. The recording industry, which has complained about the practice, could easily stop paying the middlemen if it was truly concerned, he said. [Reuters]
“Paying for access to programming data” – I like that one, it sounds much better than “extortion” or “bribery.” I like Don Henley much better as an Eagle and an advocate than as a solo recording artist. Give ’em hell, Donny.