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Radio off the dial

B'casters see annual growth of 34.4%

Radio broadcasters displayed a surprisingly burly compound annual growth rate of 34.4% over the last five years, propelled by acquisition mania, which diminished the number of media conglomerates owning radio stations, allowing them to slash operating costs.

The radio gains pushed the category’s annual revenues to $6.8 billion in 1998, a figure published in the 17th annual survey of publicly reported companies in the communications industry by Veronis Suhler, whose statistics are studied by media researchers for long-term trends. VS issued a five-page summary of its thick volume, which comes out next week.

‘Net grows fastest

The Internet grew the fastest of all categories related to the media between 1994 and 1998, shooting up by 65.8% a year and driven by “an explosive IPO market that spurred traditional media companies to acquire equity in Internet companies,” says the VS report. Total revenue for the Internet in 1998 was $4.7 billion.

No. 3 on the five-year growth list behind the Internet and radio is subscription-video services (everything from major cable operators like AT&T and Time Warner Cable to pay-per-view movies and events and pay-TV networks like HBO, Showtime and Starz!), which grew by 20.2% a year, topping out at $40.5 billion in revs in 1998.

Film up 19%

Filmed entertainment was right behind, at 19.2% a year, chalking up revenues of $34.1 billion in 1998.

The other double-digit categories from 1994 to 1998 were specialty media (directory publishing, out-of-home media, direct marketing), which climbed 17.9% a year, to $11.1 billion; advertising agencies, up 15.7%, to $16.9 billion; business-information services, up 14%, to $31.1 billion; TV broadcasting, up 11.2% to $30.8 billion; and business-to-business communications, up 11% to $3.6 billion.

Time Warner, Disney tops

Sixty individual media conglomerates harvested more than $1 billion in revs in 1998, or a total of 12.7% of the 473 companies tracked by VS. The top three revenue generators in 1998 were Time Warner, at $27.48 billion; the Walt Disney Co., at $17.44 billion; and Bertelsmann, at $10.17 billion.

TV stations harvested the highest operating-income margin in 1998, at 26.6%, followed by business-information companies (20.9%), radio stations (20.7%), out-of-home media (20.6%) and technology information (20.1%).

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