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Clear Channel Billboard Bandits

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False dichotomy. Paying politicians to allow them to control more frequencies is a great business model.

I don't think you quite understood what I meant.If Clear Channel continues to expand their presence in a media market, say by purchasing an increasing number of radio stations out of a finite and essentially unchanging number of them, then Clear Channel going to have to expand the aggregate amount of content offer media consumers in that market while the seller of the station reduces the amount of content that they offer, such that the net change of air time utilized for content is effectively zero.

Some voices currently on the air might be deemed uneconomical, and in fact whole stations might undergo a format change, but it isn't as though Clear Channel is just going to air Rush Limbaugh (a mere vendor to Clear Channel) on multiple stations serving the same market at the same time--that'd be stupid. Instead, they're going to provide differentiated content that appeals optimally to various segments of the media market such that Clear Channel captures the largest market share as is possible.

You'd stated that Clear Channel is paying politicians "to keep everyone else off the public airwaves." But, considering the practicalities stated above, who is being deposed from the airwaves by some government decree paid for by Clear Channel?

Which is great for when the resources aren't so limited, but dangerous when they are. Would you feel the same if Clear Channel, Fox and other multi-national media conglomerates used their licenses to broadcast socialist propaganda?

Fox News is a station of Newscorp, just as is Fox (broadcast) and FX. Newscorp is very comparable to Clear Channel because they have different channels that appeal to different segments of a market. Newscorp itself is ideologically neutral; they just want to make money. Every one of those channels has content that troubles me, whether they're overtly broadcasting socialist propaganda or just the everyday sort. But breaking them up is only a futile reactionary response to the symptoms of a greater problem: the educational system.

If you have a problem with the media that people gravitate to, changing the people should probably be your aim. The media that they consume is only an outgrowth of that.

Proof is indeed elusive, because $ --> evidence works for the opposing view too. Enterprises are known to spend money on controlling distribution/placement in lieu of product development for greater gains down the road.

Please explain relevence.

I think a bigger problem the Chicago School could never solve was that of negative externalities. The private cost of lobbying doesn't consider the social cost of monopolized media.

I like anti-trust regulation, but I'd appreciate it if you'd provide evidence to the effect that Clear Channel is a monopoly.

Edited by TheNiche

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That's a fine option, unless all of the licenses are controlled by a handful of media companies (like Clear Channel) who pay politicians to keep everyone else off the public airwaves. See the problem?

What is the value of free speech?

Politicians are already being paid to try and push out the likes of Rush and Hannity, and others like them. It was tried and failed, remember the "Fairness Doctrine"? Business models using politicians as your posterboys don't always work, now do they ? Air America tried to keep afloat but found no market for their hate-filled tirades, and claimed that there was an unfair market advantage in talk radio, but they couldn't prove what that advantage was. Then, when they started stealing from Peter to pay Paul, it snowballed on them.

There are plenty of channels available for people to start up there own radio stations, it all depends on whether there is a market for you or not, and if you can follow the FCC guidelines.

Meme, do you think the FCC should be disbanned as well, so that the value of "free speech" can ring free. What politicians are being paid to keep "everyone else" off the air, who is "everyone else" ?

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I don't think you quite understood what I meant.If Clear Channel continues to expand their presence in a media market, say by purchasing an increasing number of radio stations out of a finite and essentially unchanging number of them, then Clear Channel going to have to expand the aggregate amount of content offer media consumers in that market while the seller of the station reduces the amount of content that they offer, such that the net change of air time utilized for content is effectively zero.

Some voices currently on the air might be deemed uneconomical, and in fact whole stations might undergo a format change, but it isn't as though Clear Channel is just going to air Rush Limbaugh (a mere vendor to Clear Channel) on multiple stations serving the same market at the same time--that'd be stupid. Instead, they're going to provide differentiated content that appeals optimally to various segments of the media market such that Clear Channel captures the largest market share as is possible.

I understood what you said: "Are they in fact paying politicians to keep anybody off the airwaves? Or are they just expanding a successful business model?"

That's a false dichotomy. They can pay to expand the number of stations a single corporation can own AND make a lot of money doing it. They don't have to offer alternatives. They can effectively broadcast the same material on all of their outlets. By decreasing the options for the consumer, they can increase their ad revenue.

You'd stated that Clear Channel is paying politicians "to keep everyone else off the public airwaves." But, considering the practicalities stated above, who is being deposed from the airwaves by some government decree paid for by Clear Channel?

Other broadcasters. That should be obvious.

Fox News is a station of Newscorp, just as is Fox (broadcast) and FX. Newscorp is very comparable to Clear Channel because they have different channels that appeal to different segments of a market. Newscorp itself is ideologically neutral; they just want to make money. Every one of those channels has content that troubles me, whether they're overtly broadcasting socialist propaganda or just the everyday sort. But breaking them up is only a futile reactionary response to the symptoms of a greater problem: the educational system.

If you have a problem with the media that people gravitate to, changing the people should probably be your aim. The media that they consume is only an outgrowth of that.

So, your answer to my question is ... ?

I like anti-trust regulation, but I'd appreciate it if you'd provide evidence to the effect that Clear Channel is a monopoly.

I didn't say Clear Channel was a monopoly. That post was about the Chicago School of economics.

Clear Channel isn't a monopoly, but they own 1200 radio stations in the US, and have owned as many as 7 stations in a single market at the same time. They are an "oligopolist".

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Politicians are already being paid to try and push out the likes of Rush and Hannity, and others like them. It was tried and failed, remember the "Fairness Doctrine"? Business models using politicians as your posterboys don't always work, now do they ? Air America tried to keep afloat but found no market for their hate-filled tirades, and claimed that there was an unfair market advantage in talk radio, but they couldn't prove what that advantage was. Then, when they started stealing from Peter to pay Paul, it snowballed on them.

Huh?

There are plenty of channels available for people to start up there own radio stations, it all depends on whether there is a market for you or not, and if you can follow the FCC guidelines.

There are plenty of channels?? Where? Did you find some new ones?

Meme, do you think the FCC should be disbanned as well, so that the value of "free speech" can ring free.

No?

What politicians are being paid to keep "everyone else" off the air, who is "everyone else" ?

I don't have a list of their names in my hand. It started with Reagan and went full tilt with the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

"Everyone else" are the media corporations that no longer exist. In 1983, there were 50 major media corporations in the US market. In 1996 that number was down to 10, and now it's down to 6.

Do you think most of what we read, most of what we see and most of what we hear should come from just 6 corporations?

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Me too, West LA worked right on Wilshire Blvd, advertising city, and loved it. They had some of the best "moving" or electric billboards I have ever seen. One was like an origami-type continously In-folding billboard, way cool.

I think LA may have some type of zoning on their billboards. There is a difference between a low lying i-pod, movie or fashion billboard that is part of the streetscape than a McDonalds 3 miles ahead or discount furniture bilboard rising 50 feet in the air.

Billboard on Washington and Stockton in SF.

270550526_39a2999f9b_b.jpg

SOMA in San Francisco

95696755_bce00f44e9_b.jpg

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I don't have a list of their names in my hand. It started with Reagan and went full tilt with the Telecommunications Act of 1996."Everyone else" are the media corporations that no longer exist. In 1983, there were 50 major media corporations in the US market. In 1996 that number was down to 10, and now it's down to 6.

Do you think most of what we read, most of what we see and most of what we hear should come from just 6 corporations?

Wait, I thought it was the liberal media's fault! You mean 6 corporate content masters is a good thing??

<_<

Thank goodness for that. I'd hate for the fat cats to get in the way of my media consumption.

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I understood what you said: "Are they in fact paying politicians to keep anybody off the airwaves? Or are they just expanding a successful business model?"

That's a false dichotomy. They can pay to expand the number of stations a single corporation can own AND make a lot of money doing it. They don't have to offer alternatives. They can effectively broadcast the same material on all of their outlets. By decreasing the options for the consumer, they can increase their ad revenue.

Other broadcasters. That should be obvious.

So, your answer to my question is ... ?

I didn't say Clear Channel was a monopoly. That post was about the Chicago School of economics.

Clear Channel isn't a monopoly, but they own 1200 radio stations in the US, and have owned as many as 7 stations in a single market at the same time. They are an "oligopolist".

I'm not sure whether you didn't understood what I'd said or whether you don't understand what you're saying.

First of all, enough with this false dichotomy business. An argument cannot be unsound or fallacious if an argument wasn't made. I asked two questions, discounted neither as a possibility, and expected an answer. The universe of possible responses is {(yes,yes),(yes,no),(no,yes),(no,no)}, and more importantly, I'd hope that you would provide explanation and evidence supporting your response.

Secondly, what I've been saying is that Clear Channel has not actually removed the number of voices on the airwaves. They may change the voices or even station formats, but the number of options available to the listening public remains the same. They could broadcast Rush Limbaugh on all of their channels at the same time, but that would be stupid. They are in it for the money and they aren't stupid. It doesn't matter to me that they could do something stupid...they won't.

And third, according to the FCC, there are nearly 11,000 commercial radio stations in the U.S. If Clear Channel owns 1,200, that's 11%. The next largest owner is Cumulus Broadcasting, which has about 300 stations (3%). It is true that there has been ownership consolidation, but it doesn't concern me. If Clear Channel ever owns more than half of the stations, that'll be reason enough for my eyebrows to become slightly elevated. But for the time being, the only thing elevated are my shoulders.

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There are plenty of channels?? Where? Did you find some new ones?

Per the FCC, the number of commercial radio stations has increased by 6.8% over the previous 10 years. I did not, myself, expect that when I found the stat. ...learn something new every day.

Oh, and don't forget about satellite radio. There are some that'd argue that its a different kind of media format altogether, but I'd argue that it's a decent substitute for tradional AM/FM radio. Lots of new channels, there.

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My problem with the conglomeration effect is this: it's all about money, the ad revenue. So in another 10 years where are we? I'm making these numbers up. 80% spanish language for the people who can't afford private. A little talk radio for the old crusty diehards. The money, the middle and upper middle income, has flown the coop to subscription radio. That's an easy enough equation. But it pisses me off. I can afford XM, just like I can afford Dish, so on ad nauseam. But I don't want to. Good content on public airspace should not be dependent upon your ability to pay. But the content has collapsed with media conglomeration.

Conglomeration has removed local content and editing from the equation. All you get is 2 minutes per hour of weather and traffic, or whatver the ratio. That's the problem with ClearChannel. But yet isn't 'public' supposed to include 'local' ? Instead we're on a loop. I really, truly, believe the airwaves should be last ****damn symbol of un-privatized freedom in this country, and don't please don't start with the 'FCC regulation/government bad' arguments. Whew. Having said all that, so far I don't think a lot of homeland security money is going the FCC way, so I predict the next 10 years will see a resurgence in pirate radio. Especially given our proximity to the border. One can only hope.

Edited by crunchtastic

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Wait, I thought it was the liberal media's fault! You mean 6 corporate content masters is a good thing??

Huh?

I'm not sure whether you didn't understood what I'd said or whether you don't understand what you're saying.

First of all, enough with this false dichotomy business. An argument cannot be unsound or fallacious if an argument wasn't made. I asked two questions, discounted neither as a possibility, and expected an answer. The universe of possible responses is {(yes,yes),(yes,no),(no,yes),(no,no)}, and more importantly, I'd hope that you would provide explanation and evidence supporting your response.

You gave me a choice. Either Clear Channel is "paying politicians to keep anybody off the airwaves" or Clear Channel is "just expanding a successful business model". You didn't ask two questions, even though you used two question marks. You put an "or" between them, remember?

Clear Channel lobbied heavily for relaxation of the media ownership regulations so they could buy more radio stations within markets. That's well documented.

Clear Channel made a lot of money by doing that. That's also well documented.

Secondly, what I've been saying is that Clear Channel has not actually removed the number of voices on the airwaves. They may change the voices or even station formats, but the number of options available to the listening public remains the same. They could broadcast Rush Limbaugh on all of their channels at the same time, but that would be stupid. They are in it for the money and they aren't stupid. It doesn't matter to me that they could do something stupid...they won't.

They have reduced the variety of content by controlling more stations within single markets. They make company wide policies that affect all of their stations. Being in it for the money doesn't exclude reducing consumer choice. On the contrary, the two often go hand in hand.

And third, according to the FCC, there are nearly 11,000 commercial radio stations in the U.S. If Clear Channel owns 1,200, that's 11%. The next largest owner is Cumulus Broadcasting, which has about 300 stations (3%). It is true that there has been ownership consolidation, but it doesn't concern me. If Clear Channel ever owns more than half of the stations, that'll be reason enough for my eyebrows to become slightly elevated. But for the time being, the only thing elevated are my shoulders.

You said you didn't know why people were opposed to Clear Channel. Some of us don't think any single entity should be allowed to own that many stations, especially in a single market.

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My problem with the conglomeration effect is this: it's all about money, the ad revenue. So in another 10 years where are we? I'm making these numbers up. 80% spanish language for the people who can't afford private. A little talk radio for the old crusty diehards. The money, the middle and upper middle income, has flown the coop to subscription radio. That's an easy enough equation. But it pisses me off. I can afford XM, just like I can afford Dish, so on ad nauseam. But I don't want to. Good content on public airspace should not be dependent upon your ability to pay. But the content has collapsed with media conglomeration. I really, truly, believe the airwaves should be last goddamn symbol of un-privatized freedom in this country, and don't please don't start with the 'FCC regulation/government bad' arguments. Whew. Having said all that, so far I don't think a lot of homeland security money is going the FCC way, so I predict the next 10 years will see a resurgence in pirate radio. Especially given our proximity to the border. One can only hope.

The problem with crystal balls is that they're translucent. You might be able to make out the color and general shape of the object on the other side, but the details are obscured. I wouldn't be at all surprised if, within another 10 to 20 years, there are enough XM satellites and channels that every car (or ultralight commuter plane or iPod, or whatever) comes only with an XM receiver and the user only has to choose whether they want programming with or without commercial interruption on a free or subscriber basis, respectively. Or perhaps XM is just an intermediate media that'll be replaced with something altogether different. Whatever happens, it seems as though the number of channels in one format or another is going to expand. And to the extent that XM drains traditional radio of its more affluent listenership, limiting ad revenue potential, it is entirely possible that the cost of purchasing FM or AM channels will decline to the point at which we see a lot of really amateurish low-budget locally-owned and locally-produced programming targeting niche audiences.

I really don't know, but you'll have to count me as an optimist. I'm a big believer in human ingenuity where technology is concerned.

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The problem with crystal balls is that they're translucent. You might be able to make out the color and general shape of the object on the other side, but the details are obscured. I wouldn't be at all surprised if, within another 10 to 20 years, there are enough XM satellites and channels that every car (or ultralight commuter plane or iPod, or whatever) comes only with an XM receiver and the user only has to choose whether they want programming with or without commercial interruption on a free or subscriber basis, respectively. Or perhaps XM is just an intermediate media that'll be replaced with something altogether different. Whatever happens, it seems as though the number of channels in one format or another is going to expand. And to the extent that XM drains traditional radio of its more affluent listenership, limiting ad revenue potential, it is entirely possible that the cost of purchasing FM or AM channels will decline to the point at which we see a lot of really amateurish low-budget locally-owned and locally-produced programming targeting niche audiences.

I really don't know, but you'll have to count me as an optimist. I'm a big believer in human ingenuity where technology is concerned.

So basically, what you're saying, is that The Future could be jetpacks and Wayne's World?

Gotta love that optimism.

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I wouldn't be at all surprised if, within another 10 to 20 years, there are enough XM satellites and channels that every car (or ultralight commuter plane or iPod, or whatever) comes only with an XM receiver and the user only has to choose whether they want programming with or without commercial interruption on a free or subscriber basis, respectively.

That would surprise me. If the NAB doesn't stop it, Sirius is going to absorb XM, so there won't be any XM satellites or receivers. They will all be branded Sirius. If the NAB does stop them, XM will go out of business.

Whatever happens, it seems as though the number of channels in one format or another is going to expand.

That's correct. FM and AM will eventually be replaced by digital formats with the capacity for massive amounts of content. An oligopoly over distribution of that content should be easy to prevent, unless we continue to allow money to prevent regulation.

Remember, it's supposed to be one man one vote, not one dollar one vote.

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You gave me a choice. Either Clear Channel is "paying politicians to keep anybody off the airwaves" or Clear Channel is "just expanding a successful business model". You didn't ask two questions, even though you used two question marks. You put an "or" between them, remember?

Learn the meaning of the unmodified word "or". This was not an "either-or" question.

Clear Channel lobbied heavily for relaxation of the media ownership regulations so they could buy more radio stations within markets. That's well documented.

Clear Channel made a lot of money by doing that. That's also well documented.

You have yet to answer my first question, but it seems that you'd agree that they're seeking to carry on with a successful business model.

They have reduced the variety of content by controlling more stations within single markets. They make company wide policies that affect all of their stations. Being in it for the money doesn't exclude reducing consumer choice. On the contrary, the two often go hand in hand.

Help me understand what you mean by "reduced the variety of content". If their channels aren't off the air or airing the same material over and over or simultaneously, then the variety of content within any one market is unaffected. And since there have been an expansion in the number of radio stations, it'd seem like content has actually expanded in quantity. Are you talking about locally-produced content, the total number of hours of content produced nationwide, or what? And if so, or if it is something else, why do you see that as a matter of national importance? (Please note: I'm asking two seperate questions, seeking responses to each, seperately. These are not arguments, so don't assess them as such. Thank you.)

You said you didn't know why people were opposed to Clear Channel. Some of us don't think any single entity should be allowed to own that many stations, especially in a single market.

In which market did they own seven stations? For what duration of time? How many stations were active in that market in total? If we're talking about LA or something like that, prepare for me to be unimpressed.

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So basically, what you're saying, is that The Future could be jetpacks and Wayne's World?

Gotta love that optimism.

The future can be a lot of things. It probably won't be defined by 45-year-old technology or by a 15-year-old movie.

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That would surprise me. If the NAB doesn't stop it, Sirius is going to absorb XM, so there won't be any XM satellites or receivers. They will all be branded Sirius. If the NAB does stop them, XM will go out of business.

That's correct. FM and AM will eventually be replaced by digital formats with the capacity for massive amounts of content. An oligopoly over distribution of that content should be easy to prevent, unless we continue to allow money to prevent regulation.

Bear in mind the number of years I threw out there. Specifics like these don't often matter so much in the grand scheme.

Remember, it's supposed to be one man one vote, not one dollar one vote.

I think reality is probably somewhere in the middle, but who's talking about voters?

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I think LA may have some type of zoning on their billboards. There is a difference between a low lying i-pod, movie or fashion billboard that is part of the streetscape than a McDonalds 3 miles ahead or discount furniture bilboard rising 50 feet in the air.

I know in cities like San Jose and the greater Silicon Valley and Pleasanton only allow buildings to be a certain height and all billboards must be at a very low level, nothing high up in the air, period.

Similar controversies exist/brewing :o :

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?.../carollloyd.DTL

http://www.mediainstitute.org/ONLINE/FAM20...omspeech_I.html

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I know in cities like San Jose and the greater Silicon Valley and Pleasanton only allow buildings to be a certain height and all billboards must be at a very low level, nothing high up in the air, period.

well it seems like the larger ones along the freeways are staying......so it will be interesting to see how much difference it will make. maybe the hoods will look better though.

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well it seems like the larger ones along the freeways are staying......so it will be interesting to see how much difference it will make. maybe the hoods will look better though.

Yes, this was very much a compromise...let them have the more profitable, more visible boards for a reduction of the blight in the neighborhoods. I think I can live with that. As long as you stay off the freeways, you won't have to see as many boards. Just one more reason to avoid the freeway.

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Since someone mentioned Chicago earlier in this thread as a "billboard-free" city, I'd like to chime in that it's not true. However, there are tough rules about where billboards can be placed -- most notably billboards of a certain size cannot be close (I don't know the exact distance) to a highway.

There are certain billboards that are grandfathered in, but I believe repairs on them are limited. There's one old burned-out half-fallen-down crack stack next to what's left of Cabrini Green that is apparently owned by a billboard company. The junkies keep setting it on fire and the billboard keeps getting re-painted fresh and new. The building's ready to collapse, but the advertising space along I-90/94 is so valuable that the billboard company (CBS I think) keeps bracing the building.

As for the rest of this discussion, if you want to talk about Clear Channel's influence on radio, feel free to start another thread. Let's keep this one on topic.

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Yes, this was very much a compromise...let them have the more profitable, more visible boards for a reduction of the blight in the neighborhoods. I think I can live with that. As long as you stay off the freeways, you won't have to see as many boards. Just one more reason to avoid the freeway.

i guess on the freeways i have more visual "free time" because those are the ones i remember the most. it will be interesting to see whether (and how much) the industry invests in upgrading the non-hurricane compliant ones as well otherwise they have to be torn down. i know someone along i-10 that owns one that will most likely come down.

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Council delays move on billboard reduction plans

City Council on Wednesday delayed consideration of two proposals aimed at reducing the number of billboards around Houston.

full article

Hopefully this is only a short delay.

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A few questions:

Why, after twenty years of this lawsuit being in court, are we negotiating? Did the lawsuit succeed, or not? Is the 1981 law viable, or not?

How come, if the billboard ban was passed in 1981, it takes until 2013 for these signs to come down?

If this law allows the companies to move some signs in exchange for removing others, does that mean that the signs they are moving are still going to come down in 2013? Or will it be longer now?

It looks like this is mainly aimed at very small billboards (100 sq. ft.). What about the giant ones? When will they come down?

How come articles in the Houston Chronicle never seem to explain anything well? Is it because they are afraid of the sentences getting too complicated, and thus going above their usual second grade reading level?

Anyone who has answers to any of these, please let me know.

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Council delays move on billboard reduction plans

City Council on Wednesday delayed consideration of two proposals aimed at reducing the number of billboards around Houston.

full article

Hopefully this is only a short delay.

Among the comments in the Chronicle's website, urban1 writes:

"...might have been helpful to those of us reading this article if you had mentioned "why" the City Council decided to delay consideration."

Exactly.

How are we supposed to get an accurate picture of those who represent us when the Chronicle repeatedly drops the ball on political reporting? It would be nice to know who makes what motion, and who votes for what, without spending eye-glazing hours watching the Municipal Channel.

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