America's biggest radio group, Clear Channel Communications, is staying with its 'less is more' advertising sales strategy, despite posting fourth quarter losses.

The company believes cutting the number of 60-second ad spots in favour of 30-second alternatives at 75% of the cost will reap rewards as listeners respond to fewer interruptions.

As a result of this policy Clear Channel reports zero growth in its radio business through Q4, hit by declines in retail, automotive and telecoms advertising. Admits ceo Mark Mays: "There's no question we're taking a short term hit to develop a 30-second marketplace."

However, the company is adamant the market is improving with more 30-second spots sold in February than in January.

Outdoor advertising performed better with 12% earnings growth, although live entertainment faced a difficult year in 2004 with many concerts and events cancelled, resulting in a revenue fall of 12%.

Overall the company posted a net loss of $4.67 billion (€3.53, £2.43) in Q4 following a writedown of the value of its radio licences. The writedown was related to a change in the way it calculates the value of those licences.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff