Clear Channel Releases Q1 Financials: CCM+E Up 2%. This morning Clear Channel released financial data for the first quarter of 2014 and the Clear Channel Media + Entertainment group – radio stations, Premiere Networks, Total Traffic + Weather, iHeartRadio and related live events – saw income rise 2% compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company says “Media + Entertainment revenue rose $14 million, or 2% compared to the same period of 2013, driven primarily by higher revenues at our traffic and weather business reflecting new product offerings and the impact of strategic sales initiatives, as well as higher national sales fueled by growth in the telecommunications, healthcare and automotive categories, and higher digital advertising revenue benefitting from an increase in total listening hours on our iHeartRadio platform. Partially offsetting these revenue gains was a decline in our local revenues. Operating expenses were up $26 million during the first quarter of 2014 versus the same period in 2013, due primarily to higher compensation expenses driven by investments in our national and digital sales forces, and increased production costs for events such as the iHeartRadio Country Music Festival, as well as greater digital streaming and performance rights expenses driven by increased total listening hours and revenues. OIBDAN decreased $13 million, or 6%, to $200 million in the first quarter of 2014.”
WPHT Personalities to Debate GOP Party, Conservative Movement Future. The WPHT, Philadelphia “Talk Radio 1210” air staff will be together on the same stage for the very first time today (Thursday, 4/24) at 5:00 pm to participate in “Super Talk Debate” at Victory Beer Hall’s XFinity Live in South Philadelphia. Personalities Dom Giordano, Dick Morris, Gary R’nel, Chris Stigall, and Rich Zeoli will discuss/debate subjects such as the future of social issues in American politics; foreign policy intervention; the GOP’s view on marijuana legalization; and how Republicans can win the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016. The format will be presidential debate style. Each participant will be at a podium, make opening and closing statements, and answer questions from the audience and moderator Larry Kane. Rick Grimaldi and Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli will host the post-debate show at 6:30 pm. By voting online, listeners will decide the winner. Voting will continue until next Monday (4/28) at 5:00 pm when Morris and R’Nel will announce the results.
Wilkes-Barre Radio Personality Bud Brown Retires from WILK. Longtime Wilkes-Barre radio pro Bud Brown calls it a career after signing off from Entercom’s news/talk WILK-AM/FM yesterday morning (4/23) after 40 years on the air. PAHomepage.com reports Brown is a native whose career began in New Jersey before he returned home to work at WBRE and then WILK. Brown tells the site, “I got along with all my coworkers. I respected them. I felt mutual respect returning and I think that more than anything else is what I treasure most about all the things about all the days on the air.”
Nielsen Reports Positive First Quarter; Revenue Up 12.9%. That figure is compared to the same period a year ago on revenue of $1.49 billion. Nielsen Holdings N.V. chief executive officer Mitch Barns says, “Nielsen delivered a solid first quarter. Our underlying business performance, which was marked by broad-based revenue growth and strong profitability, was enhanced by the ongoing successful integration of Arbitron. Our clear focus on the key business priorities of our diverse global client base continues to produce steady and consistent results while delivering long-term value for our shareholders.” The company reports that free cash flow for the first quarter of 2014 increased to $13 million from -$15 million in the first quarter of 2013 and cash flow from operations increased to $90 million in the first quarter of 2014 from $54 million in first quarter of 2013. The increases were driven by stronger operating performance and favorable interest payments.
Rover’s Legal Team to Call Howard Stern as Witness in Cleveland Case. When WMMS, Cleveland morning show host Shane “Rover” French appears in court on May 20 to defend himself against 13 charges – including attempted felonious assault, inducing panic and resisting arrest – his lawyer is calling Howard Stern as a witness, according to Fox 8 Cleveland. It’s not clear why Stern would be a relevant witness or if he’ll even appear. Co-host Michael Toomey, a.k.a. Chocolate Charlie, was arrested along with French during the incident that took place over the 2013 Fourth of July holiday weekend in which an off-duty police officer claims French and Toomey shot off illegal fireworks, refused requests to stop, assaulted him and more.
Media World A-Twitter Over FFC ‘Net Neutrality’ Plans. The chatter got so intense over reports about what today’s announcement by the FCC regarding its new open Internet rules will be that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler issued the following statement to counter speculation. “There are reports that the FCC is gutting the Open Internet rule. They are flat out wrong. Tomorrow we will circulate to the Commission a new Open Internet proposal that will restore the concepts of net neutrality consistent with the court’s ruling in January. There is no ‘turnaround in policy.’ The same rules will apply to all Internet content. As with the original Open Internet rules, and consistent with the court’s decision, behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted.” What got people so uptight? Numerous sources – including the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Fox News and others – say today’s announcement will propose that content companies be allowed to pay for faster delivery over the so-called “last mile” connection to people’s homes. The Associated Press writes, “The new rules are meant to replace the FCC’s open Internet order from 2010, which was struck down by a federal appeals court in January. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed that the FCC had the authority to create open-access rules but said it failed to establish that its 2010 regulations didn’t overreach. While the older rules technically allowed for paid priority treatment, it was discouraged. The new rules spell out standards that such deals would have to meet to be considered ‘commercially reasonable’ and are designed to survive a court challenge in the future. Under the proposed rules, if such a deal for priority access were challenged, the commission would look at its impact on competition, on consumers, on free speech and civic engagement, and whether a broadband provider was acting in good faith.”
The Next Generation(s). At the Cox Media Group Houston office, the sound of the pitter-patter of little feet could be heard as staffers brought their progeny to work for the annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.” Altogether, 18 young people (pictured here with some of the parents), ranging from 2 ½ to 13 years of age came to work on Thursday (4/24) to follow their parents on a typical day. Well, a mostly typical day, as activities were planned for every age group. The kids will learn to record a commercial, use their voices for station on-air promotions, participate in social media postings, and see inside the studio as the DJs broadcast live. The daylong activities will be mixed in with some fun as well, including a pizza party for lunch, a dance-off with the digital department, and if activities are too much, “Frozen” will be shown in the afternoon so everyone can take a break from it all. Cox Houston VP and market manager Mark Krieschen says, “This is our first year to implement the program in Houston. I can already feel the excitement in the air as the kids are making themselves right at home.”
Russian Aggression in Ukraine/Obama vs Putin, 2016 Presidential Race-Mid Term Elections, the FCC and Net Neutrality, President Obama’s Asia Visit, and U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/23). Russia’s involvement in the unrest in Ukraine and analysis of President Obama’s handling of Vladimir Putin; speculation about candidates in the 2016 presidential election and the looming mid-term elections this year; controversy over the FCC’s “open internet” policy to be announced today; President Obama’s visit to Asian nations excluding China; and the state of al Qaeda after U.S. drone strikes on terrorist targets in Yemen were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.