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No. 14: Clear Channel

San Antonio

Revenue: $5.8 billion

Profit: $249 million

A decade ago, Clear Channel Communications was just one among scores of small, scattered radio companies, quietly overseeing the handful of stations it was allowed to own under strict Federal Communications Commission caps. Today, thanks to sweeping government deregulation followed by a series of multibillion-dollar pacts, the Texas-based conglom operates a media empire rivaling some of the biggest TV and film players.

The cornerstone of Clear Channel’s business remains radio. The company boasts nearly 1,200 stations, including a half-dozen in each of the largest U.S. markets. But the company also boasts more than 650,000 outdoor ad displays and, thanks to a $4.4 billion acquisition of SFX Entertainment completed a year ago, a network of 120 live entertainment venues across the country, which this summer hosted the megatours of U2, ‘N Sync and Madonna.

So far in 2001, Clear Channel’s No. 1 priority has been to absorb its myriad purchases, and figure out ways to combine them and boost profits. For example, the company recently renamed SFX as Clear Channel Entertainment, and plans to beef up the unit’s TV arm, with an eye toward marketing shows based on CCE’s live events.

The company also consolidated several of its air play and live music data services into one offering, called Music Information Systems, which goes online in August.

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