Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clear Channel Seeks Radio Station Sale; FCC Regulations Push the Company to Shed 1of 7 Local Stations before Its Buyout

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clear Channel Seeks Radio Station Sale; FCC Regulations Push the Company to Shed 1of 7 Local Stations before Its Buyout

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BASCH

Clear Channel Communications Inc., which has already put its two Jacksonville television stations up for sale, is now looking to sell one of its seven area radio stations as it prepares for a $26.7 billion buyout by private investors.

The San Antonio-based media giant announced last month that its group of 42 television stations, including WAWS TV-30 and WTEV TV-47 in Jacksonville, is up for sale. Clear Channel also said it would sell 448 of its 1,150 radio stations as part of the buyout, but all of those stations are outside of the top 100 U.S. radio markets.

But in a filing last week with the Federal Communications Commission, Clear Channel indicated it will have to sell a number of other stations in larger markets, including Jacksonville, to get FCC approval for the buyout.

FCC rules allow a company to own up to eight radio stations in larger markets, but only five of them can be in the same "service," meaning AM or FM. Six of Clear Channel's seven Jacksonville stations are FM, so the company is one station over the FM limit.

Clear Channel has been allowed to exceed the limits in Jacksonville and other markets because of waivers and grandfather clauses in FCC regulations. But when ownership of Clear Channel is transferred to the private investor group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital Partners LLC, the waivers cannot be transferred to the new owners. So Clear Channel will be required to meet the FCC mandate of only five FM stations in one market.

"Clear Channel has agreed not to fight the grandfathered stations and will probably divest one," said Norman Feuer, who recently retired as general manager of the company's seven Jacksonville stations.

The FCC filing does not indicate which station is up for sale, and Feuer said he has no information about possible sales.

A Clear Channel spokesman said Tuesday that the company is not commenting beyond what's in the FCC filing.

In a research report last week, Banc of America Securities analyst Jonathan Jacoby said Clear Channel will likely have to divest 80 or more additional stations to meet FCC requirements, including stations in top markets New York and Los Angeles. …

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