Cumulus Media is planning to let go of conservative political commentators Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, according a report by Politico. Hannity and Limbaugh host the two most highly-rated talk show hosts in the country, but an inside source says that for Cumulus Media, the second-biggest broadcaster in the country, distribution costs are too high. According to Politico's source, the media company will not renew the contracts for either host:
The decision comes after negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel that distributes Limbaugh and Hannity's shows, broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights, the source said. Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names.
As industry insiders caution, Cumulus and Clear Channel have come to the brink before during contract negotiations only to resume talks. But the source told POLITICO that Clear Channel was unlikely to reduce the cost for distribution rights to a level that would satisfy Cumulus.
Cumulus declined to comment for this story: "Cumulus is not in a position to comment about negotiations with talent under contract, no matter what the rumor of the day might be," a spokesperson told POLITICO.
If the negotiations are not finalized, then Premiere "is expected to carry Limbaugh and Hannity on stations in many of the markets where they are currently signed with Cumulus," reports Politico.