40 Radio Stations to Drop Limbaugh, Hannity: Source

Dispute over cost of distribution rights to blame, a source tells Politico
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2013 6:09 AM CDT
40 Radio Stations to Drop Limbaugh, Hannity: Source
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, right, attends Vince Flynn's funeral at the Cathedral of St. Paul, in St. Paul, Minn., Monday, June 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Star Tribune, Glen Stubbe)

Politico is calling it a "major shakeup," while the New York Daily News paints it as a "seemingly inevitable divorce." America's No. 2 radio broadcaster intends to give Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity the boot by year-end, per an industry source. Money is apparently the root of this problem: Cumulus Media's move is said to be the result of an impasse it reached with Premiere Networks over the cost of distribution rights, with the latter refusing to drop that cost to a number Cumulus is happy with; Premiere is the Clear Channel arm that syndicates Limbaugh and Hannity's shows.

What does that mean for Limbaugh and Hannity, who have the No. 1 and No. 2 radio talk shows in America by a landslide? Not much, maybe. They'd be wiped from more than 40 major-market Cumulus channels, but they'd likely shift to Clear Channel stations in those markets. And, writing for The Week, Peter Weber thinks Limbaugh and Hannity "have the upper hand," because if they do move to Clear Channel, it can't really pay them anything less than it was demanding of Cumulus. Politico points out that Limbaugh was rumored to have soured on Cumulus following a March earnings call in which CEO Lew Dickey said the company was still losing money because of Limbaugh's "slut" comments. Sources say Cumulus has been talking to other personalities, and will likely fill one of those holes with its current talent. (Read more Sean Hannity stories.)

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