Clear Channel Communications and AMFM are thisclose to finalizing their merger, according to several sources. The closure of the $23.5 billion deal, which was struck last October, could happen as soon as tomorrow (July 18).
Clear Channel is said to have instructed the buyers of $4.1 billion worth of radio-station spin-offs to be ready to close their deals the day after the merger closing. But Justice is said to be requiring one last concession in addition to the spin-offs: the sale of half of AMFM's 30% interest in Lamar Advertising. Lamar is the nation's No. 3 owner of outdoor billboards and advertising displays, while Clear Channel is No. 2 (behind No. 1 Infinity Broadcasting).
The antitrust bunch apparently is concerned that Clear Channel could raise ad prices in a market where the company owns both radio stations and billboards, along with a stake in Lamar's outdoor faces. A Justice Department spokeswoman could not be reached for comment last Thursday.
According to Clear Channel spokesman Randy Palmer, "we continue to have discussions with the Department of Justice and we would like to get [the merger] done as soon as possible." Upon closing, the new Clear Channel's U.S. holdings will comprise about 850 radio stations, 24 TV stations and about 89,000 outdoor faces in 43 markets.
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