The toxic environment that right wing talk radio has created is now destroying it as Premiere Networks is circulating a list of 98 advertisers who don’t want their ads to appear on Hannity, Beck, or Limbaugh.
Taylor on Radio-Info had this note that Premiere Networks is circulating:
To all Traffic Managers: The information below applies to your Premiere Radio Networks commercial inventory. More than 350 different advertisers sponsor the programs and services provided to your station on a barter basis. Like advertisers that purchase commercials on your radio station from your sales staff, our sponsors communicate specific rotations, daypart preferences and advertising environments they prefer. . .They’ve specifically asked that you schedule their commercials in dayparts or programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity). Those are defined as environments likely to stir negative sentiment from a very small percentage of the listening public.
The advertisers who no longer want any part of right wing talk radio include major corporate heavyweights like Ford, GM, Toyota, Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm, McDonald’s, and Subway. Radio industry experts are already speculating that the advertiser flight from controversial shows could change the talk radio business.
Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, and Beck are four of the top seven rated shows on talk radio. Combined they have an average weekly listenership of 46.5 million +, but without big time corporate advertisers these shows are in jeopardy. Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, Beck and all the other right wing talkers may be confronted with the choice of either toning it down, or facing extinction.
Advertisers are risk adverse. They won’t advertise their products or services on programs that have the potential to damage their reputation and brand. It wasn’t until the Color of Change boycott against Glenn Beck that advertisers had to worry about this issue. Now that advertisers are realizing that they will be held accountable for their decision to associate themselves with hate speech, they are fleeing those conservative talk radio hosts who court controversy.
The fact that the names on the Premiere list are conservative talkers once again illustrates the fact that both sides do not do this.
Defenders of Limbaugh and his ilk often scream about free speech, but the reality is that when a Limbaugh or Hannity or Beck says something controversial the American people have the right as consumers to choose not purchase products and services from companies that financially support these hosts.
This isn’t a suppression of speech. It is the free market at work. If the advertiser demand for extremist conservative talk radio vanishes, those programs will eventually leave the air. Glenn Beck still had millions of people watching his program when Fox News canned him. FNC got rid of Beck because they couldn’t make any money on his show.
After decades of unchecked dominance, activists have finally found the key to holding talk radio accountable. The fact that the boycott success achieved against Glenn Beck is being replicated against Rush Limbaugh provides more evidence that advertiser boycotts work.
The irony is that the same free market that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and the others claim to be championing is sowing the seeds of their demise.