Mel axes top radio guy to light Infinity’s fire

Company's revs down 2% in 2002

NEW YORK — Just days after publicly berating his radio division, Infinity Broadcasting, for its lousy financial performance last year, Viacom operating chief Mel Karmazin has sacked Infinity’s president of radio operations John Fullam.

Infinity, which operates nearly 200 radio stations in major markets nationwide, saw revenues shrink by 2% in 2002 — a performance far short of both Viacom’s as a whole and the Karmazin’s stated goal of topline growth in the high single-digits.

On the media conglom’s quarterly earnings call, last week, Karmazin said the results were “not acceptable,” adding that “there’s no other reason other than reasons related to our sales division.”

It remains to be seen how the division will stack up against the industry behemoth, Clear Channel Communications, which is slated to report its first-quarter numbers next month. For the full-year of 2002, Clear Channel boosted revenues by 9% at its radio unit.

It wasn’t immediately clear whom Infinity intends to install in Fullam’s chair, but the markets seemed to think anyone would be an improvement Monday. Viacom shares moved ahead 2.7% to end the day at $43.18.

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