Will TV & Newspapers Go The Way of Clear Channel?

Clear Channel seems to be media consolidation's whipping boy. Hard to find anyone who doesn't love to hate Clear Channel. And like the bully in the schoolyard who went a bit too far, Clear Channel is losing its fellow media conglomerate friends.

[…] Today, broadcast, cable and newspaper giants like Viacom, Comcast and Gannett want a chance to expand their empires and enjoy the same large-scale efficiencies that Clear Channel has profited from. But they're frustrated. After years of intensive lobbying and with a Federal Communications Commission chairman, Michael Powell, who is widely considered to be thoroughly pro-deregulation, the havoc wrought upon radio by Clear Channel is unexpectedly offering ample proof of what can go wrong with media deregulation. Radio's current mess is having a significant impact on the debate over media concentration, and may even force Powell to water down his long-awaited ownership recommendations […] salon.com

I've thrown my two-cents in on this issue on these pages here, here and here. And Salon.com's Eric Boehlert chimes in today with his sixth “Media Borg” essay titled Clear Channel's big, stinking deregulation mess.

To be sure, the current White House administration is taking a hands off approach to media regulation and the de-regulation enabled by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. But as Eric points out, Clear Channel is making deregulation look bad. And this just might be a good thing for the rest of us and for mass media overall.

[…] consumer discontent with broadcast radio appears to have finally gotten the attention of politicians. Appearing before the Commerce Committee in January, Powell received an earful from senators who for years were indifferent to radio. Suddenly, they were pressing him about the industry's runaway consolidation. In a rare move, Powell, an articulate free-market advocate who thinks today's ownership rules don't “reflect the realities of the modern media marketplace,” conceded he was “concerned about the concentration, particularly in radio.” […]