Clear Channel, Rush Limbaugh’s parent company, reported first quarter losses that had to be excruciatingly painful. The controversial, often infuriating cabal reported a loss of $203 million compared to last year’s loss of $143.6 million. One clue to Clear Channel’s troubles is a nationwide boycott of Limbaugh’s sponsors. That boycott began early last year after Limbaugh called a college student a “slut” and a “prostitute.” According to a May 3 Daily Kos article, Clear Channel’s revenue fell 1.3 percent to $1.34 billion. Revenue from the company’s media and entertainment division was down 2.2 percent. Operating expenses dropped 3.5 percent. Here is another connection: Bain Capital, LLC uses Clear Channel Media as a vehicle.
Sharp pains resulted when the public had enough of Limbaugh’s blatant racism, sexism, gay-hatred and bigotry that went out over 600 affiliated radio stations. Many opponents went after the sponsors, identifying and shaming them out of their lucrative arrangements with Clear Channel and Limbaugh. Two very large systems, StopRush and the ThinkContext browser extension were set up to enable millions who identify Limbaugh’s sponsors and encourage others to stop buying from them.
Many radio listeners migrated away from the AM/FM dials since Limbaugh crossed the line. This was devastating to Clear Channel’s right-wing friendly business plan. Clear Channel is in massive debt and a May 3 Moody’s report indicates that a CSO note including Clear Channel was downgraded.
After Limbaugh’s attack on college student Sandra Fluke, activists forced about 100 sponsors to abandon him. Fluke was the Georgetown law student who testified to convince Congress to mandate contraception coverage in health insurance plans. Limbaugh was captured on this YouTube video saying that Fluke must be paid to have sex and then calling her a slut and a prostitute. The incident triggered an instant, enormous response that has never let up.
A March 16 Media matters report described the Fluke incident as an immediate problem for Limbaugh’s flagship station, WABC in New York. The article said, “Limbaugh’s show had been stripped of key advertisers. Instead, the once robust revenue-generating program had turned into a feel-good forum where during commercial breaks WABC ran nonpaid public service announcements on behalf of the United Negro College Fund and New York Office of Emergency Management. That’s because WABC didn’t feel comfortable putting lots of advertisers on Limbaugh’s show, which up and down Madison Avenue had become poisonous in this wake of his misogynistic Fluke debacle.”
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Limbaugh is worth $350 million and receives an annual salary of $40 million. Limbaugh is now a majority owner of his radio show and he attracts over 14 million listeners per week. He once reached a peak of 20 million listeners in 2003. In 2008, Limbaugh hit the motherlode, snagging a $400 million, eight-year contract with Clear Channel. This means that Clear Channel has to come up with $400 million in the face of declining sponsor revenue and downgraded credit.