Another awards show is joining the primetime fray. Fox has teamed with Cumulus and dick clark prods. for American Country Countdown Awards, based on the long-running country radio countdown show. The two-hour live concert event will be broadcast from Nashville on December 15. It will feature awards, including a new honor, NASH Icon, as well as performances. American Country Countdown With Kix Brooks celebrates its 41st year as America’s longest-running country music countdown show on radio. The radio show airs on more than 280 radio stations in 155 markets, covering 90% of the country. As the value of live entertainment has risen with the proliferation of time-shifted viewing, the networks have been aggressively bulking up their slates of awards franchises, with four new ones debuting this year, iHeartRadio Music Awards, also done in partnership with a radio giant, Clear Channel, and American Comedy Awards on NBC, the Hollywood Film Awards on CBS (also produced by Dick Clark Prods.) and American Country Countdown Awards on Fox.
Radio or Rdio? For Cumulus, it’s both: In a deal announced this morning the station owner will wind up with “a significant equity stake” in Pulser Media, which owns Rdio — a subscription music service that competes with companies including Spotify. In return, the companies say, Cumulus will provide “exclusive content, media and on-air promotional commitments over a five year period” and a sales operation to develop “ad-supported free products, including music on-demand, custom playlists and exclusive content curated by Cumulus.” Rdio CEO Drew Larner — a former exec at Spyglass Entertainment, Morgan Creek Productions, and Fox — calls this a “monumental deal” and “the first time a digital and a broadcast platform have come together in this way.” In June Larner said he planned to give up the CEO job but remain Rdio’s executive chairman. And Cumulus chief Lew Dickey says the partnership will help consumers to “listen to whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want.” RBC Capital Markets “initiated and facilitated” the deal, the companies say.
The agreement will expand the reach of radio’s No. 2 talk show host on Clear Channel stations next year. Details will be announced later, and they’ll probably indicate where Sean Hannity‘s shows will be heard in markets where he had been syndicated to stations controlled by Cumulus following reports over the summer that he and the radio power were prepared to part ways. Today’s announcement says that the Fox News commentator will appear on additional Clear Channel Talk stations and non-Clear Channel outlets, with an increase in the number that air his show live. Hannity also will “participate in key live events, touring and iHeartRadio Talk, the first mass market focused audio platform to offer on-demand listener-created talk content side by side with established personalities, celebrities and shows,” Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks says. The new distribution plan will “offer even more exposure and growth for The Sean Hannity Show,” says Clear Channel Media and Entertainment CEO John Hogan.
Rush Limbaugh made sure today to goose those media reports that suggested his longtime radio partnership with Cumulus Media was over when he announced on his radio show that he had re-upped with the company in a new three-year deal. Reports first surfaced in July that the broadcaster was planning to not renew deals with Limbaugh and fellow host Sean Hannity following negotiation breakdowns with Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks, which distributes both shows. That came after Limbaugh reportedly mulled leaving Cumulus in May after receiving blame for advertiser decline in the wake of his controversial Sandra Fluke comments. The Rush Limbaugh Show currently airs weekdays on 40 Cumulus stations. Said Limbaugh today: “On either Wednesday night or Thursday, we completed our negotiations with Cumulus Media, and there will not be any changes. I will continue to be on their radio stations for the next three years. It was really never in doubt…” The only change going forward for the show will be in New York, where the show is leaving WABC and moving to WOR beginning January 1. “My syndication partner is Clear Channel Communications, and they own WOR, and so we’re gonna go to our own radio station in New York”, Limbaugh said today on-air.
UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh Tells Listeners That “Everything’s Cool” But Won’t Say Whether Cumulus May Drop His Show
UPDATE, 10:40 AM: “Suffice it to say, nothing is going to happen that you will notice,” Rush Limbaugh said today in response to a Politico story that says Cumulus plans to drop his syndicated show, as well as one from Sean Hannity. Limbaugh assured listeners that “you will be able to get this radio program on as many, if not more radio stations down the road than it is on now.” He says he “must use proper business restraint” in discussing his talks even though “negotiations have been taken public by one side.” One day “I am looking forward to detailing all of this for you,” he says. But however things play out, he told fans, “I want to assure you: everything’s cool.”
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY PM: Cumulus Media may beat Rush Limbaugh to the punch. A source tells Politico the broadcaster is planning not to renew its contracts with Limbaugh and conservative host Sean Hannity following negotiation breakdowns with Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks, which distributes both shows. In May Limbaugh reportedly mulled leaving Cumulus after receiving blame for …
CBS Corp said today that it is forming CBS Sports Radio, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week lineup of national programming from CBS Radio and CBS Sports that will debut January 2, 2013. CBS Sports-branded hourly updates will kick off on affiliate stations beginning September 4. Cumulus Media will be the network’s exclusive syndicator and sales partner to secure affiliate agreements and ad sales with radio stations nationwide through Cumulus Media Networks. In addition, Cumulus will make CBS Sports Radio programming available on 67 of its owned stations. That puts the new programming in nine of the nation’s top 10 markets at launch, with a cumulative audience reach at debut close to 10 million listeners.
The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index was down 3.5% today while the DJ Industrial Average was off 2.4% — and Goldman Sachs may have contributed to the imbalance: It downgraded the entertainment sector today to “neutral” from “attractive” saying that ad sales will be weaker than expected as the overall economy softens. That came as the market also reacted to Greece’s report over the weekend that it will fail to hit its deficit-reduction targets for the year — increasing the possibility of a default. CBS, -7%, was the biggest loser among the major media companies. It was followed by Viacom (-5.1%), Sony (-4.7%), Disney (-3.9%), Time Warner (-3.4%), and Comcast (-2.2%). In the broader media market, broadcasters Westwood One, LIN TV, Rado One, and Entercom were down by more than 10%. Pandora, Live Nation, Crown Media and Cumulus Media lost more than 8% of their market value. A few companies were up for the day including Yahoo (+2.7%), Regal Entertainment (+2.0%), Coinstar (+1.6%) and Time Warner Cable (+0.2%).
Media stocks suffered along with just about everyone else today after the Federal Reserve stirred recession fears by reporting “significant downside risks to the economic outlook” — and World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned that global economies are in a “danger zone.” The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell 3.9%, slightly more than the 3.5% drop in the DJ Industrial Average. Companies most exposed to advertising were hard hit. CBS led the pack among the industry’s Big Guns with shares down 7.2%. It was followed by Viacom (-6.6%), Disney (-5.5%), Comcast (-3.8%), Time Warner (-3.6%), News Corp (-3.3%), and Sony (-2.7%). Others falling at least 7% include Nielsen and Sirius XM. Those dropping at least 6% include Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, The New York Times, Coinstar, IMAX, and Cumulus Media. Even in the battered market, a few media companies were up on the day including Live Nation (+2.1%), Barnes & Noble (+3.1%), Scholastic (+6.8%) and Westwood One (+20.8%).
UPDATE, THURSDAY AM: Citadel stockholders approved the merger with Cumulus this morning, the last hurdle in the process. The deal is set to close Friday.
ATLANTA & LAS VEGAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cumulus Media Inc. (“Cumulus Media”) (NASDAQ: CMLS) and Citadel Broadcasting Corporation (“Citadel”) (OTCQB: CDELA) (OTCQB: CDELB) (OTCQB: CDDGW) today announced that the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has approved the pending merger of a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of Cumulus Media and Citadel (the “Merger”). With this approval and the previously announced termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the “HSR Act”), Cumulus Media and Citadel have now received all required regulatory approvals in connection with the Merger. As previously disclosed, in connection with the termination of the waiting period under the HSR Act, Cumulus Media will divest three radio stations in two markets – Flint, Michigan and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Merger remains subject to approval by the stockholders of Citadel, as well as other customary closing conditions.
Also as previously disclosed, Citadel’s special meeting of stockholders to approve the Merger will be held on Thursday, September 15, 2011, and the deadline for Citadel’s stockholders to make an election with respect to the consideration they wish to receive in the Merger is 5:00 p.m., New York City time, also on September 15, 2011.