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Published: Wednesday, 1/21/2009

1,850 jobs, 9 percent of staff, slashed by broadcaster

FROM THE BLADE'S NEWS SERVICES

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Clear Channel Communications Inc., the largest U.S. radio broadcaster, has cut 1,850 jobs, or 9 percent of its work force, six months after being taken private in a $17.9 billion buyout.

Facing an advertising slump, the company eliminated jobs at its corporate, radio, and outdoor advertising units, according to a memo to employees yesterday from Chief Executive Officer Mark Mays. The e-mail was confirmed by Michele Clarke, a company spokesman, who declined to comment further.

"We are facing an unprecedented time of distress in the general economy - and the ripple effects have hit some of our largest customers hard," Mr. Mays said.

Most staff dismissals were in sales. They were effective immediately. The layoffs exceed reports in two publications four days ago.

The cost cuts include moves to replace more local shows with syndicated content, industry sources said. The reductions are intended to help save the company $400 million, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

It was not immediately clear what effect the changes will have in the Toledo area.

Asked yesterday what local cuts and changes would occur, Andy Stuart, vice president and market manager for the Toledo-area Clear Channel stations, said he would not have time to talk about it until later. He could not be reached later in the day.

Clear Channel owns 21 stations in northwest Ohio, including five in Toledo: WCWA-AM, WIOT-FM, WVKS-FM, WSPD-AM, and WRVF-FM.

The parent company, CC Media Holdings, owns billboards and radio stations under the Clear Channel name.

It has been hit hard recently. During the third quarter, the company's revenue from radio broadcasting fell 7 percent, and it reported a net loss of $90 million.

Private-equity firms Bain Capital Partners LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP completed the acquisition of Clear Channel in July, almost two years after first agreeing to buy the company.

U.S. radio advertising spending had dropped 9 percent through Sept. 30 and probably declined further during the last quarter, according to Jon Swallen, senior vice president of research at New York-based TNS Media Intelligence.



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