Monday was a day of good news for people who are boycotting Rush Limbaugh’s sponsors. According to Radioinfo.com, all national advertising for the Limbaugh’s show will be suspended for two weeks. However, Tom Taylor of Radioinfo thinks Premiere’s hope is that after the two week chill, it will be business as usual for Rush Limbaugh.
The following memo was sent to affiliates that air Limbaugh’s program.
“Attention Traffic Managers of Premiere News/Talk Affiliates:
“We are suspending the requirement to run barter spots for two weeks, March 12th and March 19th, for our News/Talk affiliates only.
“Please replace/re-traffic any Premiere barter spots immediately. Contractual requirements to run barter spots are being suspended for these two weeks only. Replace them with Lifelock and Lear Financial or a local spot of your choice.
“This suspension does not apply to in-program commercial provided by Premiere within any of its live news/talk programming.”
Last night, Lawrence O’Donnell discussed the meaning and implications of this memo with Tom Taylor of Radioinfo.com.
Watch here courtesy of MSNBC:
Here is a transcript.
Taylor: … I suspect, although Premier doesn’t really talk about why they did this, I suspect that they just want to make sure that nothing happens, that there’s no friction on the air involving advertisers…
The whole temperature level of this thing is something that the syndicator and Rush himself would like to bring down. And as you say, that’s why Rush had a round of golf today.
… I think a lot depends on what happens the next few days. This is a fairly arcane area, Lawrence. A lot of advertisers don’t like to be near controversial or potentially offensive programming. And they will instruct people quietly, please don’t put us there. And advertisers move in and out of this all the time. We just don’t hear about this. this one we happen to be hearing about.
O’Donnell: And do you think that two weeks is an amount of time where Limbaugh and the syndicators can figure out what their next step is?
Taylor: Sure. And I think they’re now formulating strategy. If you notice the statement late last week when Rush refuses to let longtime advertiser who had been with him since he was a local radio talent in sacramento on kfbk, refused that let that advertiser back on the show. That was actually handled by an outside crisis management person. And that’s kind of the first time we’ve seen that. So I think you’re seeing them try to get a handle on it. In fact, my headline in the newsletter tomorrow morning is, a rush to chill. That Rush Limbaugh and Premier just want to cool things down for a while and let things quiet down. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rush gets in some more golf.
As Jason Easley ( reported last night, radio stations are losing money on Limpo’s program of misogyny and hate.
If this looks like it’s going down a familiar road, we have been down that road before, with another conservative personality who thought he was all powerful and unstoppable, namely Glenn Beck.
Like Beck, Limbaugh attempted to minimize the effect of the boycott. Part of the damage control campaign involved a reminder about high ratings. In Beck’s case, when the advertisers first ran from his show, Fox had the following response, as reported by politics daily.
“Fox News Channel has said that the advertisers have shifted their ads to different time slots so the campaign is not affecting revenue. Beck’s 5 p.m. show is Fox News’ third-highest rated, with over 2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.”
In his version of damage control, Limbaugh compared his lost sponsors to french fries. (vid. Link: http://bcove.me/ynodcct3 )
As Jason Easley observed, http://www.politicususa.com/limbaugh-radio-stations-losing-money/ there is one difference between Limbaugh and Beck.
“The big difference is that Beck hung around for months, while Limbaugh is declining by the day. If the boycott continues to gain steam, Limbaugh’s future will be Beck’s present. Glenn Beck went from being a mainstream media golden boy to being an afterthought on radio with a fledgling Internet TV show. Beck is still around, but nobody cares or talks much about him anymore. I can’t see Limbaugh being totally off of radio, but this boycott may mark the end of his days as a Republican power player and national voice.”
While there are parallels thus far, it is important to remember that part of the reasoning behind the two week suspension of ads is a hope that advertisers will get some time off from public pressure. It is just important to remember that this strategy is dependent on a hope that the public will either be distracted or lack the attention span to persist in a boycott.
As this was going on Rush Limbaugh was apparently having a Golf Day. He has threatened to be back on the air today, but don’t be surprised if Rush Limbaugh has a few more golf days over the next couple of weeks.
Obviously, the boycott has affected revenues and with it, Rush Limbaugh’s value to corporate sponsors has been damaged. However, as was the case with Glenn Beck, this suspension is about damage control. While national ads have been suspended for two weeks, the purpose is to reduce pressure on those advertisers. The boycott must continue, not only with the advertisers that by barter spots, but also local sponsors. Pressure should also be applied to local affiliates that air Limbaugh’s show.
Reducing his value to corporate sponsors is part of the reason this is so important. As a national broadcaster of the Republican Party line, he is also the de facto leader of the Republican Party. When it comes down to it, that is Limbaugh’s crowned jewel. Once he loses sponsors and with it access to people across the country, Limbaugh loses his leadership position in the GOP. The added bonus is that would be getting him where he lives.
It also means he will lose political influence within the Republican Party. That would be getting him where he lives.
Image from Media Matters
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