April 09, 2003
Clear Channel to end pay-for-play

Hot off the presses, as it were:

Clear Channel Communications Inc. on Wednesday said it would cut ties with music promoters who are paid by record labels to trumpet songs to radio stations, saying the long-standing practice gives the appearance of "pay for play."

Clear Channel, the top U.S. radio station owner, has been a lightening rod for criticism of the industry that so-called independent promoters use payments to influence what songs are played on radio stations.

Under the practice, which has been scrutinized by lawmakers, independent promoters charge music companies to tout their records. They then pay radio companies for often-exclusive access to station programmers and early information about their playlists.

Clear Channel, which is based in San Antonio, Texas, and operates about 1,200 stations, said it will stop working with these promoters when existing deals run out this summer to avoid the appearance that its playlists are influenced by payments.

In a statement, Clear Channel President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Mays said the company recognizes that "these relationships may appear to be something they're not."

"We have zero tolerance for "pay for play,' but want to avoid even the suggestion that such a practice takes place within our company," he said

I'm not sure how much effect this will really have - it certainly won't affect "classic rock" and other non-new-music-playing stations. It won't affect me, since the only Clear Channel outlet I ever tune to is a demographically appropriate classic rock station. And frankly, I'm way too cynical to think that Clear Channel is doing this for any reason other than to beat back the long overdue rising tide of radio re-regulation. But as always, I'll take my victories where I can.

On a side note, on my way back from lunch I heard a guy call in to the classic rock station to request "Freebird". What, they don't play it often enough?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 09, 2003 to Music | TrackBack

I can't speak for Houston radio, but I know in NYC there is no longer a station worth listening to at all. The only way to hear classic rock is via digitial cable's Music Choice station (which by the way, does have "Freebird" in heavy rotation).

Posted by: William Hughes on April 9, 2003 2:27 PM

Yeah, it really broke my heart when I heard that WNEW 102.7 was no longer a kickass rock station. If New York doesn't have a good rock station, what hope is there for the rest of the country?

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 9, 2003 3:12 PM

New York also doesn't have a country music station for that matter. Then again, considering what passes for country music these days, that's not a bad thing.

Clear Channel is having a seperate problem with AFTRA in its' contract talks in New York due to the issue of voice tracking (otherwise known as pre-recorded programming). AFTRA's take on this is available at http://www.aftra.org/newyork/StandBy/alert1.html.

This could get very interesting.

Posted by: William Hughes on April 9, 2003 5:24 PM