Clearchannel Public File Inspection


Media Alliance ED Tracy Rosenberg’s report from a public file inspection for Clearchannel Radio in San Francisco.

On arrival at Clear Channel’s rather bleak San Francisco headquarters at 340 Townsend Street directly across from the Caltrain station, one is let into the faceless facade by a burly security guard. There is nothing on the first floor that indicates media, radio, music, news or entertainment, merely a row of elevators and a glass-enclosed security booth. The front door is open to the public at no time, leading to my initial surprise at the locked front door at 1:00pm on a Monday afternoon – until the buzzing noise indicated admission onto the premises by security.

My request to inspect the public file generated a call upstairs and then a solicitous escort into the elevator and upstairs to be deposited directly into the hands of the receptionist. For the period of time security was escorting me, one can only assume the buzz-into-the-building service was unavailable.

The receptionist, who had gloriously high five-inch heels on her sandals, informed me this wasn’t her usual job, so I’d have to wait a few minutes. After about seven minutes, an operations manager who filled out the other end of the attire spectrum  escorted me to a somewhat aged windows computer placed rather oddly in the middle of a hallway, with its own printer and chair. This was the public file inspection point. The computer seemed to have no content on it besides the public file materials for the many San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay stations licensed by Clear Channel-related holding companies and likely would have crashed had it contained any additional files, given its dilapidated state.

About every 10 minutes, one or another staff member came over to make sure I was all right and finding everything and also to make sure I filled out the “public file inspection form” which in addition to the xerox of my driver’s license already taken, ensured that Clear Channel would have my contact information into infinity.

I  was not surprised to find the various public files had the required documents. A few quarterly reports proved mildly entertaining with strained definitions of sporting events documenting required weekly coverage of local information and events. “Beer night at the Oakland Coliseum” encompassed one 30 minute-segment demonstrating public service obligations were being met.

Form 323, usually a fairly straightforward filing of who owns the license, was unusually thick in some of the public files, including that for “Green 960”. An exploratory peek (that took a while due to the slow unfurling of an old version of Acrobat Reader) revealed a whole lot of transfers from one holding company or LLC to another, with names ranging from Capstar to AMFM to CC Media.

Difficult to follow, so I was happy to find a handy-dandy chart detailing over 30 different linked entities, of which 11 were current FCC license holders.

The chart is called CC Media Holdings Inc: Licensee Subsidiary Ownership Structure.

The public file also described at length the capitalization base for many of the interlocking LLC’s and holding companies: those with a stake included Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Cayman Islands, and JP Morgan Chase.

After about 40 minutes, I remitted a dime to the receptionist to pay for my print out of the “Licensee Subsidiary Ownership Structure” and departed. I was surprised to discover, on the purposefully blank walls, a Christmas wreath.