It’s not a good time for media. Print and broadcast are suffering greatly with the emergence of new technologies and the tanking economy. Over the years there have been two specific changes in my business, broadcasting, that have contributed to our tight squeeze. I wish the underlying rules had never been touched!
It was once illegal to traffic in broadcast stations. That meant an owner stayed an owner for a minimum period of time. It made operators more interested in a longer term outlook.
There was also once a limit in how many AM, FM and TV stations a company could own. It was the 7-7-7 rule. Now broadcasting is dominated by more and larger companies. Unfortunately, in many cases their acquisitions have been leveraged based on historic cash flows… which no longer exist.
Clear Channel, as an example, “Operates over 800 radio stations reaching more than 110 million listeners every week across all 50 states.” When they last updated their website they employed 20,000. There have been multiple rounds of layoffs. The chart of their stock price looks like the world’s scariest ski jump!
It’s easy to wish for a return to a gentler, easier time. The genie’s out of the bottle. You really can’t go back. I still can envy those who work for owners who haven’t succumbed. One friend at station owned by the same people who’ve owned it for decades wrote: “Live and Local 24/7 Independent non-corporate…we are grateful every single day.”