Clear Channel, Westwood Revs: Sound Of Silence

radioNo company is immune to radio's woes--including Clear Channel Media Holdings, the parent company of Clear Channel Communications, which bought the radio and outdoor giant in a deal funded by private equity earlier this year. Clear Channel said its total revenue slipped 4% to $1.7 billion in the third quarter, due mostly to a 7% drop in radio revenues, which fell to $843.9 million. Clear Channel Outdoor was down just 0.5% to $813.4 million.

Clear Channel Radio's difficulties are symptomatic of radio's troubles overall as it negotiates a secular slump and a broader economic downturn. Clear Channel said both local and national advertising revenues, traditionally radio's bread and butter, fell in the third quarter.

According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, for the three months of the third quarter, total revenues were down an average of 8.5%, with local down an average 8.7% and national down an average 12%.



While Clear Channel's outdoor division is still faring better than radio, it's also showing the effects of a weakening economy. Over the last few years, outdoor has shown strong growth for Clear Channel and the industry in general, but the salad days appear to be over--in developed economies at least. Clear Channel Outdoor's Americas showed slowing results in the U.S. and Western European markets, in contrast to continued increases in its Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe.

About $20 million dollars of Clear Channel Outdoor's revenue was due to foreign currency movements from its substantial overseas business. Without these exchanges factored in, Clear Channel Communications' overall revenue would have been down 5%, rather than 4%.

Clear Channel's outdoor division is not alone. Lamar recently said it was drastically scaling back the rollout of digital signage in 2008-2009 due to adverse economic conditions.

Also on Monday, Westwood One said its revenue fell 10.9% in the third quarter to $96.3 million, including a 16.3% drop in local and regional advertising revenue and a 4.3% drop in national revenue. The company also absorbed a $10.6 million restructuring charge in the third quarter. However, it remains optimistic about the prospects for ad network revenue growth in the coming year.

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