Rush Limbaugh’s business model is in a state of collapse as years long advertiser boycott shows the power of decency.
A mostly fawning piece on Limbaugh in Politico contained confirmation that the advertiser boycott has decimated Rush Limbaugh’s business:
Limbaugh’s business model breaks down if these local affiliates can’t sell a lot of expensive ads to recoup the fee: In that case, the stations end up losing money on his show. That helps to explain why, over the past several years, Limbaugh has been dropped by some his biggest long-time affiliates.
The move to smaller stations in big markets has apparently hammered Limbaugh’s syndicator. In the old days, Premiere Networks “could make a lot of money through fees—a million [dollars] a year or more from single stations,” says John Mainelli, a long-time radio executive who was WABC’s program director when Limbaugh made the move from Sacramento to New York. Limbaugh’s old affiliate in Boston, for example, paid some $500,000 a year to carry his show, estimates Darryl Parks; when you add in all of the commercial time they had to surrender to Limbaugh, the total value came in closer to $1.2 million, Parks says.
Now, because Limbaugh has been moved to so many smaller stations that pay much smaller fees, Premiere is “not collecting anywhere near what they used to collect in fees,” says Mainelli. And Mainelli points out that with the decline in ad revenue since 2012, the fees have become even more important: Their reduction has only added insult to Premere’s injury.
On top of that, it stands to reason that if Limbaugh is moved to enough lower-watt stations, his ratings will eventually suffer.
The story also highlights the fact that the advertiser boycott worked. Advertisers left Limbaugh after his comments about Sandra Fluke inspired the boycott, and the corporate giants have not come back. Limbaugh’s contract is guaranteed, so the boycott hasn’t cost him a dime yet, but it has pushed Premiere to the point of bankruptcy, killed the radio stations who were forced to pay the carriage fees to air Limbaugh, and resulted in the right-wing talker losing influence by being demoted to smaller stations.
The Rush Limbaugh advertiser boycott is alive and well, and they are a shining example of what can happen when people come together to hold those who help to fund and profit off of right wing extremism accountable. Limbaugh will continue to broadcast, but the boycott transformed him from a national voice into a toxic figure.
Limbaugh and those who partnered with him have been made to pay dearly for selling hate speech as entertainment.