Clear Channel Eyes Petry


Clear Channel Communications Inc. is in talks to buy Petry Media Corp., the third-largest TV ad-sales rep firm, for an estimated $150 million, according to people familiar with the transaction.

A sale would further consolidate the business of TV rep firms, which package and sell ad time for stations, and give Clear Channel more leverage to negotiate with station clients.

Currently, the Clear Channel-owned companies produce about $2.5 billion in ad sales; Petry, about $1.5 billion. The Cox-owned rep companies control about 50% of the market, or about $4 billion in annual ad sales.

For Clear Channel, which controls about 30% of the market, the addition of Petry would put the company on equal footing with Cox. It would also gain leverage in negotiating service contracts with station clients, eliminating a competitor that might offer better terms—essentially, lower commissions for sales made on behalf of stations.

If the sale is completed, the sides are still far apart on price, and talks could falter—it would certainly draw scrutiny from the Department of Justice (DOJ), which investigated a proposed sale of Petry five years ago. The DOJ demanded changes, and ultimately, the deal collapsed.

Petry and Patriarch officials did not return calls for comment. Clear Channel and DOJ officials declined to comment for this story.