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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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The planned merger between broadcasting giants Evergreen Media Corp. and Chancellor Broadcasting Co. probably won’t lead to major operational changes at the five affected L.A.-area stations, industry observers said last week.

Evergreen and Chancellor announced plans to merge and use their combined buying power to purchase Viacom Inc.’s radio group. The two companies had been negotiating separately to buy Viacom’s 10 stations nationwide, but were apparently on the verge of losing out to competitor Jacor Communications.

Assuming the proposed merger is approved by shareholders and regulators, Evergreen/Chancellor will own five stations in the L.A. market Evergreen-owned KKBT-FM (92.3) in Los Angeles; Viacom-owned KYSR-FM (98.7) and KIBB-FM (100.3), both in Burbank; and Chancellor-owned KLAC-AM (570) and KZLA-FM (93.9), both in Glendale.

Officials at Evergreen, Chancellor and Viacom were not available for comment.

However, Gordon Mason, president of the Southern California Broadcasters Association, said the proposed consolidation is unlikely to lead to many layoffs or format changes at the L.A. stations.

All of the stations involved are already well-established in their formats, Mason said, and ownership consolidation rarely results in stations’ back-office or management functions being consolidated at least in big markets such as Los Angeles.

In medium-sized and smaller markets, though, widescale changes as a result of the Chancellor/Evergreen merger are expected. Media buyers fear the combined companies would try to dominate certain demographic segments in smaller markets, thus allowing them to charge considerably more for advertising time.

Stations in medium-sized markets can also expect management layoffs and possibly format changes as a result of the merger, as the combined company seeks to consolidate its share of certain audience segments, said Edith Whaley, vice president of media buying firm International Communications Group.

Dan Turner

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