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In the wake of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Clear Channel
Communications has grown to become the world?s dominant force in
radio, concert promotion, and billboard advertising. ?[The Act]
opened the door for deregulation and sparked widespread
condemnation from media activists who saw [it] as an attack on the
public interest function of the FCC,? reports Stephen Marshall for
In These Times. Clear Channel was a relatively unknown
media player from San Antonio, Texas, until the Act passed. Since
then, L. Lowry Mays who is an old G. W. Bush crony, has spent more
than $30 billion to make his company one of the most formidable
media brokers on the planet. Clear Channel?s most notable holdings
are in the radio industry where they own 1,200 radio stations and
claim around 50 percent of the U.S. audience share.

Even FCC chairman Michael Powell (son of Secretary of State
Colin Powell), who media activists have painted as a unabashed ally
of big business and the Bush administration, is concerned.
Statements like this have helped galvanize public distrust of Clear
Channel?s monopoly. And the company?s political stance?black
listing alleged songs of dissent after September 11 and sponsoring
pro-war rallies?have spurred media activists to rally against the
media giant.

The company is currently wrapped up in a major congressional
investigation of its business practices, and the FCC has blocked
two of Clear Channel?s recent station transfer requests?the first
time the regulatory agency has blocked such a request since 1960.
With the option of unlimited expansion fading, Clear Channel may
have a difficult time recuperating after experiencing a nearly 50
percent drop in its stock price since September 11, 2001.
Nick Garafola

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