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FCC frowns on Clear Channel radio deals

The fate of Clear Channel Communications Inc.'s radio acquisitions in three
markets will be decided by a Federal Communications Commission administrative
judge after agency staff declared that the deals created too much concentration
and would not be in the public interest.

The acquisitions include its purchase of KFLX(FM) Nolanville, Texas, from Sheldon
Broadcasting Ltd., which would give Clear Channel control of 53 percent of radio
advertising in the Killeen-Temple metro area and place 98 percent of radio ad
revenue in the hand of the top two station owners.

The other deals are the purchase of WSKW(AM) and WHQO(FM) in the
August-Waterville, Maine, market from Mountain Wireless, and four stations in the
Youngstown, Ohio, area from Youngstown Radio -- WNIO(AM), WNCD(FM), WICT(FM) and
WAKZ(FM). In those markets, Clear Channel and the other top owner would control
99.5 percent and 95.3 percent of ad revenue, respectively.

The FCC already slated one Clear Channel merger for hearing -- the proposed
acquisition of WUMX(FM), Charlottesville, Va., from Air Virginia Inc. Rather
than beginning expensive and time-consuming rounds of court filings, however, the
company chose to defer the judicial proceeding, and it will wait to find out if the
merger complies with final radio-concentration rules expected to be issued later
this year.

The hearing process was established in March as part of an interim policy for
resolving so-called flagged deals that are given an extra layer of review when
they would allow one company to control 50 percent of a market's ad revenue or
two companies to control 75 percent.

The FCC cannot reject deals without first slating them
for judicial review.