FCC Vows to Take on Clear Channel

16 May 2003

The Federal Communications Commission is vowing to take on the power of US radio behemoth Clear Channel Communications.

Kathleen Abernathy, one of three Republican commissioners on the five-member FCC, revealed that Clear Channel’s dominance of some rural radio markets has caused cross-party concern.

“Because of the way our markets are defined, in certain markets they’ve clearly acquired more power than we would have wanted,” she said. “Everyone agrees this is something we have to fix.”

As part of its overhaul of US media regulations, the FCC plans to reconfigure the nation’s radio markets, and may force Clear Channel – owner of 11% of America’s 11,000 stations – to offload some of its portfolio. Commissioners are due to vote on the reforms on June 2.

The media mammoth, however, insists the law should stay as it is. “We believe the problem is confined to quirks in a few rural areas,” declared senior vp Andrew Levin, “and we're concerned about unintended consequences of changing the rule.”

The bipartisan resolve to take on Clear Channel may surprise some observers after recent complaints the group was abusing its market power to drum up support for the Bush administration and silence opposition during the war in Iraq. [The broader deregulation of ownership laws, however, may sweeten the pill.]

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff