CBS Is The New Clear Channel

Things are so quiet on the Clear Channel front that you just have to know that the Mays' want to get out the back door with as much money as they can and with a private radio group in tow. They won't even contest the sale of their valuable grandfathered radio stations by seeking waivers. Anything to get this deal done fast. Many expect the new Clear Channel radio group that emerges to be like the old "Cheap Channel" before its consolidation days -- a nice, "little" family business. That paves the way for number two to become number one -- CBS will have more influence than the new private version of slimmed down Clear Channel even if it has many more stations. But CBS shares in the disgrace of consolidation. Under Mel Karmazin it was a ferocious cost-cutter. Under present management it looks inept. Couldn't replace all that Howard Stern revenue even with a full year's notice -- still can't. Dismantled formats. Installed a nice little "Jack" format even in markets where it wouldn't work -- it couldn't work. CBS has a convoluted view of where it fits into the Internet seemingly grasping to become a new age Internet company with the baggage of an old line media company that missed the boat.

With "leaders" like Clear Channel and CBS these past ten years, no wonder the radio industry is on the ropes. They think it's all because of the Internet and iPods, but they are the reason. Under the guise of creating shareholder value, these misguided consolidators cut and hacked their way into the next quarterly earnings report. They took their eye off the ball when it was convenient to do so. Both companies didn't respect and value their best asset -- no, not the towers and transmitters -- but its creative, management and sales people. If their ineptitude didn't hurt so many of my longtime radio friends still toiling at their jobs, I'd almost be enjoying what they have created -- no vision, no plan for the Internet age, no withdrawal plan from consolidation and -- this is the best of all -- lots less shareholder value than a few years ago. I thought that was their mantra -- shareholder value.

Bottom line: they've failed their listeners, failed their employees and failed their shareholders who today hold stock that is greatly devalued from what it once was. Now that the Clear Channel that we all know and love is on its way to being neutered, is anyone excited by the prospect of the soon-to-be all powerful CBS as the new Clear Channel? Don't look to Wall Street.

For another view of the damage from consolidation, read John Rook's excellent piece "Radio's Past is Its Future" by clicking here.