Infinity Re-Signs With Interep

Not only is Infinity Broadcasting one of Interep's largest clients, it's also one of two key renewals at a time when Interep is still smarting from the loss of another big station group--Citadel Broadcasting Corp.--in recent months. Citadel jumped ship last October, moving its spot-radio rep business to Katz Radio Group. Interep, the nation's largest independent rep firm, is locked in a struggle for share of the national spot radio business with Katz, which is owned by radio giant Clear Channel Communications.

The Infinity deal is worth a lot to Interep, which had $94.5 million in revenues in 2002. Infinity's billings are between $400 million and $500 million annually through Infinity Radio Sales, the unit Interep created nine years ago to handle the business. Interep Radio Sales handles national radio spot sales for 100 of Infinity's stations. The rest, the product of Infinity's acquisition of American Radio Systems, have had longstanding contracts with Katz and aren't represented by Interep.



Terms of the deal, which were not announced, included its length. But Ralph Guild, chairman and chief executive officer of Interep, said Wednesday that it was longer than the recently announced renewed contract with Spanish Broadcasting Systems. The Miami-based station owner signed an eight-year contract with Interep last November that extends to 2011. It had eight years of experience with Interep.

Infinity goes back a long way with Interep. The association began in the late 1970s when the former Torbet Radio Group (later Allied Radio) began repping two stations: KOME in San Jose, Calif. and WIVY in Jacksonville, Fla. In 1995, Infinity's representations were consolidated into Infinity Radio Sales. Infinity purchased the radio stations owned by American Radio Systems Corp. in June 1998.

Joel Hollander, president and chief operating officer of Infinity, said in a prepared statement that Interep had consistently outperformed for its radio stations, and singled out its creative sales and marketing programs.

"We are very confident that this long-term relationship will help us continue to grow our market share and serve our customers," Hollander said.

Guild said Infinity's contract renewal was extremely important to Interep.

"They're one of the largest broadcasters in the industry, and run a really fine organization in terms of quality programming and the audiences they deliver," Guild said. "They're wonderful people to work with."

Tuesday's announcement wasn't the only good news for Interep. In a quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts, Cumulus Media President and Chief Executive Lew Dickey said Cumulus and Interep were "working hand in glove" to build national sales at its nearly 300 stations in 59 mid-size and smaller U.S. media markets.

"They are working diligently to help this," Dickey said. Dickey said that Interep added sellers and has a deep management team, which makes him optimistic for the future. "We feel we've got some share goals for that team to hit for us in 2004, and we think we're going to get there," he said.

Cumulus has several years left in its contract with Interep, Dickey said.

Interep has long-term contracts with a number of other big stations groups, including ABC Radio, Beasley, Emmis, Entercom, Inner City, Radio One, and Susquehanna.

"One of the reasons they prefer to be with Interep is our commitment not only to getting the largest share of available radio dollars, but the enormous commitment over the last 12, 13 years of going directly to advertisers to develop new business," Guild said. He said it's clear that radio broadcasters can't just keep fighting one another for market share, but have to go after advertising dollars that are going to other media.

Guild said Wednesday afternoon that there aren't any more major contracts up for renewal in the near future.

"We do try to stay several years ahead of the curve, so that we don't get to the end of the contracts without having a renewal," Guild said.

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