|England / USA:
Media giant claimed to threaten British music
“The Texan media company Clear Channel Communications is increasingly casting its shadow over the music scene in Britain,” claims Granville Williams, editor of the newsletter ‘Free Press’, published by the British ‘Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom’
“Lovers of independent and innovative music in Britain should be worried about Clear Channel’s US practices,” writes Granville Williams in his article ‘Clear Channel: clearing the airwaves’.
“As the company builds an ever larger stake in the British music scene, the big question is whether it wants to duplicate the massive vertically integrated music operation it has in the US.”
In the article, Granville Williams mentions an example from America in 2003 when Clear Channel gave its support for George Bush’s push for war in Iraq. After Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Texan country band Dixie Chicks, criticised Bush while on stage in Britain, country music stations owned by Clear Channel banned their music. Some believe the boycott was instigated by Clear Channel executives to send a message to other musicians taking an anti-war stance, warning that it could hurt their careers.
During a speech at the National Press Club in April 2003, actor and outspoken anti-war activist Tim Robbins told reporters, “A famous middle aged rock’n’roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. ‘They promote our concert appearances,’ he said. ‘They own most of the stations that play our music. I can’t come out against this war’.”
The Texan media company owns over 1,200 radio stations and more than 30 television stations in USA. Based in San Antonio, where its founder Lowry Mays started with one radio station in 1972, it has now built up a global empire spanning radio, concert promotion and billboard advertising. Worldwide Clear Channel has media outlets in 66 countries and owns 700,000 billboards.
The scale and scope of its operations has led to a number of controversies about its politicised business operations and allegations of abuse of market power in order to boost profits and stifle criticism.
Granville Williams reports that Clear Channel has a controlling stake in a concert and music promotion group which organises several major music festivals and large outdoor concerts across the country, and it owns the majority of music venues in London.
Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom – official home page:
SocialistWorker.co.uk – 25 February 2006:
‘Clear Channel: clearing the airwaves’