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Premier Networks Takes Massive Revenue Hit on Cumulus (CMLS) Contract, Rush Limbaugh Loses WABC in NY

Rush Limbaugh announced today that he has signed a new three year contract with Cumulus. This announcement represents a massive hit in licensing revenue for Premier Networks, Rush’s syndicator, which is owned by Clear Channel. (Video link of the announcement from the DailyRushbo)

Currently there are no details about the amount of the contract, nor are there likely to be. Historically when talent announces new contracts that are favorable to them, they make it public and mention the amount. But when it is a less favorable, they don’t. Then it’s proprietary.

This is good news for Cumulus and bad news for Premier, Clear Channel and Limbaugh. 

Why do I know that Premier (and probably Limbaugh) are taking a massive income hit?

1) Cumulus, Premier and Limbaugh will not release details and comparisons to previous contracts.

2) Limbaugh reframed the story to focuses on the strawman of Cumulus possibly dumping him vs. how much less money his syndicator is getting from Cumulus.

“A group owner was going to cancel their contract with me on 35 of their radio stations and that would be ‘the end of my career’ because one of those 35 was WABC in New York, and WLS in Chicago and WMAL in Washington, and WBAP in Dallas and WJR in Detroit and other large markets. And once that happened, sayonara I’m in everyone’s rear view mirror. ” – Rush Limbaugh, August 23, 2013

He then goes on to talk about how the MSM figured this would be the end of him, but ta da, nothing has changed! Except he is off WABC in New York. And he won’t talk about what it cost him to stay on Cumulus. I’m betting that Premier had to take a massive licensing fee cut. How much is massive? I don’t know, only insiders will know and they will only talk if it is to their advantage.

Now will Limbaugh personally make less money because Premier got less money from Cumulus? I’m guessing yes, unless Clear Channel/Premier’s lawyers are really stupid, which they might be. But maybe not. Rush might still be under an old contract with them that pays him a flat fee vs. a percent of the licensing fees. Clear Channel is a private company. They don’t have to tell anyone squat. Even public companies like Cumulus don’t have to break out information on contracts.

The fact that Limbaugh announced this himself on Friday, probably after the market closed, with no details on the size of the contract, means that is the good news for Cumulus. The bad news is for Premier and Limbaugh. They will be getting smaller licensing fees. The losing of a key 50kW station, WABC in New York, is mitigated with his move to Clear Channels WOR. For Clear Channel this is an easy switch since they own both WOR and Premier, it is just an internal accounting swap, money goes from one pocket into another.  But he did lose it, which means less revenue from Cumulus.

What I want to point out to everyone in the media, in the liberal community and especially to the activist community, is that coming together and using tweets, emails and phone calls to alert advertisers of Rush’s horrific comments, works. They don’t want to taint their brand by associating with him. This is a massive success story. We have used the power of the market, and corporate branding fears to financially push back the RW media. This is a story that you won’t see the MSM or even the trade media acknowledging as significant. As they say in the financial industry this was an material event. This work has moved markets. It’s a big fraking deal.

Rush’s show has become toxic to most advertisers. Rush is not making as much revenue for his syndicators and the distribution groups as before. Rush was an asset that is becoming a liability.

We did this. All the #stoprush people everyone who wrote to or tweeted at advertisers did this. Angelo Carusone, and the folks at Media Matters did this.

How much did this hurt? I haven’t done the money math, but if you extrapolate from the lack of advertisers on the Limbaugh shows in the various markets to the cost each paid, you know it’s 10’s of millions. (Also, sometimes in order to even get advertisers on the show, they have to give it away for free. So you might hear an advertiser, but they are paying nothing, but getting it as part of a bundle.) Bottom line? Net net? Less advertisers means less revenue. He can have huge ratings, but millions of earballs don’t translate to greenbacks.

Limbaugh can boast about the way that he didn’t get dumped by 34 of the 35 stations, but he won’t be talking about just how powerful the campaign was. Of course he will say, “They didn’t get me off the air!” but that really wasn’t the point. That negotiating chip couldn’t have even been used by Cumulus without the campaign (although I doubt they will thank us.)  Can Rush say, ‘They didn’t cost me money, personally?” maybe, but again, that’s not the point. I see people arguing, “You Libtards didn’t hurt Rush, he can’t be fired!”  It’s like a baseball player with a 30 million dollar, three year contract. He breaks his leg the third year, they still have to pay him the last 10 million. Unless his agent is incompetent. Rush’s contract with his syndicator won’t be discussed, but you can guaran-damn-tee it that when it is time to renegotiate his contract with Premier/Clear channel he ain’t getting the same amount as before. And that’s a Victory with a capital V for us.

We kicked ’em in the balance sheet folks. Kicked ’em hard. In the famous words of Eddie Murphy in Trading Places. “If you want to hurt rich people, you take away their money.”

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