continued Glickenhaus says he's familiar with Klein's comments and he disagrees. "That certainly did not come from our company, to the best of my knowledge," he says of the examples cited by Klein. "I can understand Justice wanting to protect consumers from unfair competitive practices, but it takes a long way to get it to a monopoly, and that is not the case here. It all goes back to the basic premise that radio does not compete against radio alone. Advertisers have many choices, from cable and television to print and outdoor, and with radio accounting for just 7 percent of all ad dollars, that means advertisers are putting 93 percent of their investment into other areas. So even if we owned every station in the market, we would still only be acquiring 7 percent of total advertising dollars - which is a very small share."
Even so, San Diego's two remaining independent broadcasters are feeling the squeeze. They can't buy more stations, even if they wanted to, because the buying spree by public giants like Jacor has sent the cost of stations spiraling, not just here in San Diego, but all over the country. "Man, it's tough," says Bolinger, whose stations are both owned by Midwest Communications of Champagne, Illinois. "What broadcasters did in the 1980s, going out and buying stations with really no money, just raising venture capital, can't be done, and that's a shame."
Jonathan Schwartz, an owner of the locally based Compass Radio, agrees. "We just can't compete with these major groups who have cheap access to capital through public markets and are paying pretty rich prices because of deregulation," he says. "They can afford to pay more than an independent because they are able to take advantage of cost efficiencies as well as the revenue opportunity that will eventually come out of deregulation, which is to control more inventory."
Four years ago, when Compass entered the San Diego market with its purchase of KCBQ-AM and KCBQ-FM, it owned six radio stations in three markets - San Diego, St. Louis, and Phoenix. Today, Compass owns just one, KXST-FM, a low-powered rock station based in Oceanside. At the time there was only one national broadcast giant in the market, Gannett Broadcasting, competing against more than a dozen independents. Today, this order is reversed. All but 3 of the 32 AM and FM frequencies in San Diego are controlled by Jacor and a handful of other big operators.
So far, the Justice Department's fears that Jacor and other public giants would lockup markets and drive up ad rates have not materialized, says Rita Zanella, a media analyst with Gruntal & Company in New York. "Going from $1000 a spot to $1500 is not going to happen," she says. "There's a watchful eye out there. You're not seeing a lot of ad rate growth, outside of the normal, because it's still under such scrutiny."
Schwartz, of Compass Radio, believes Jacor hasn't raised its local rates much for another reason: its desire to build market share. "Right now these large groups, and Jacor is one of them, are going more for share of the market to get advertisers used to buying groups of stations, and they are doing that through attractive pricing," he says. "Jacor will walk up to an advertiser and say, 'You can buy all ten of our stations in San Diego, and here's the price we'll give you.' That way they can eliminate the advertiser from buying other stations in the market."
Glickenhaus insists Jacor's ad rates are "a function of demand, a function of the marketplace. Our advertisers set our price. If you continue to build demand, then you can possibly raise your rates, but at this point we're still in the process of building our radio stations."
He would not, however, rule out future rate increases. Zanella is not surprised. As she told the Chicago Tribune shortly after deregulation took effect, when you're as big as Jacor is, "you control pricing. You eliminate your competition and have greater control over what you can charge."