The Department of Justice is conducting two antitrust investigations into
the business practices of radio giant Clear Channel Worldwide.
One is examining the allegation that the company requires recording artists to
use its concert-promotion business in order to gain airplay on the company's
The other is that Clear Channel is trying to exert monopoly power over Southern
California markets through use of U.S. and Mexican radio stations it controls.
Assistant Attorney General R. Hewitt Pate disclosed the investigations during
an oversight hearing by the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust task force.
Pate refuse to predict whether the investigations are likely to result in
antitrust charges or how far along they are.
Clear Channel officials characterized the investigations as "fairly routine"
for a company engaged in numerous mergers and complex transactions.
"We are cooperating fully with all DOJ requests," Clear Channel lobbyist Andrew Levin said. "We are confident
that the DOJ will find, as it has in the past, that our company is managed with the
highest degree of integrity."
Despite the nonchalant tone, Clear Channel has become the chief target of big
The company is the largest radio-station group, with more than 1,200 stations,
and it is the biggest concert promoter in the United States.
Congress has heard testimony from musicians complaining that the company has
used its leverage over both sides of the business to ban artists from its play
lists when they don’t sign with its concert-promotion business.
Clear Channel was also impacted most by recent FCC ownership-rules changes
that would limit the size of radio-station clusters in smaller markets.