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Clear Channel cuts back on Spots

Good news, radio listeners, Clear Channel is trimming its spot inventory, according to this report.

The details strike me as a bit hazy, to say the least. And it’s rather disturbing that promotional minutes are being lumped in with advertising minutes. Promotional time is, after all, there to communicate what the station needs to communicate to further its strategic agenda and, for example, to help you understand what it does and why you should care. Trimming THIS time is not a smart move. Trimming spot time…well…the wisdom of that move goes without saying.

The article states: “U.S. radio broadcasters have been grappling with excess advertising time at lower prices after cranking up the level of ad minutes per hour in the late 1990s. The sector has lagged an advertising rebound this year for other media, particularly cable television and the Internet.” This is technically wrong since, in some cases, inventory has actually INCREASED since the advertising boom went bust. Remember, if you have to sell at lower prices, it’s always easier to have more minutes to sell. You don’t HAVE to sell at lower prices, of course, but only NOW is that old refrain being heard loud and clear. Listeners be damned, it’s Wall Street doing the talking now! Suddenly Radio is all ears!

Plus, CCU plans to design better commercials. “Not only are there too many commercials, there tend to be too many bad commercials,” said CCU head John Hogan. Most radio spots have been trash for a long time, John, where have you been? Nevertheless, this is a move very much in the right direction, and I’m glad CCU is stepping out and taking it.

If they’re smart, Infinity will follow suit as will the rest.

If they’re opportunistic, of course, they won’t.

But I suspect the good of the industry and the concentration of power will converge to do what will be best for the audience and best for broadcasters, too.

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