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Jan 23, 2009

Clear Channel Cuts 1,850 Jobs

The future of Clear Channel Wheeling is unclear in the midst of sweeping job cuts by the largest owner of U.S. radio stations.

The parent company of Clear Channel Communications Inc. announced Tuesday it is eliminating1,850 jobs as it grapples with the current economic meltdown. The cuts represent about 9 percent of the company's total work force and affect staff throughout the company in radio, outdoor advertising and corporate offices.

Chuck Poet, manager of Clear Channel Wheeling's seven radio stations, referred calls Thursday to the San Antonio, Texas, office of the company's chief communications officer, Lisa Dollinger, who could not be reached for comment.

According to an e-mail Thursday from Clear Channel Associate Managing Director Ray Yeung, the company is not breaking job cut numbers down by geography or business function. It also is not releasing names. It is not known how the seven radio stations of Clear Channel Wheeling will be impacted.

In a company-wide e-mail, Chief Executive Mark Mays informed employees the company is facing an "unprecedented time of distress." He also wrote that "everyone in our investor group, on the board and in the executive leadership team remains bullish about the long-term growth prospects for Clear Channel."

According to the Associated Press, the advertising market has been soft, especially for radio stations. In the third quarter, the company lost $86.1 million, with the steepest drop in its radio operations, where revenue was down 7 percent. Overall, the company's third-quarter results were down 4 percent from the same period during 2007.

CC Media Holdings, in another SEC filing on third-quarter results, expressed them in a different - and substantially bleaker - manner. That method was the OIBDAN calculation, defined in the SEC filing as "operating income before depreciation & amoritization, non-cash compensation expense, merger costs and gain on disposition assets." By that method, the company reported to the SEC that third-quarter losses totaled 16 percent as compared to the same period for 2007. Radio operations slid by 12 percent, according to the filing.

Private equity firms Bain Capital Partners LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP formed CC Media Holdings to acquire Clear Channel in July for $17.9 billion.

Clear Channel operates more than 1,200 radio stations nationwide. In December, the Standard & Poor's rating service downgraded its credit rating on CC Media Holdings to "CC," which means the stocks are considered "highly vulnerable, very speculative bonds." The rating had been "B," which meant the company's "financial situation varies noticably."

The company's stock, trading over-the-counter under the ticker symbol CCMO, was trading at $1.80 per share Thursday, down from $2 Wednesday. Since August, the stock has plunged dramatically, from a 52-week high of $20 per share.

Source : TheIntelligencer
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