The second largest radio broadcaster in the nation, Cumulus, is planning to drop the radio shows of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity by the end of the year, Politico reported Sunday.
An industry source told Politico that Cumulus will not renew the contracts of Hannity or Limbaugh as the company has reach an impasse with Clear Channel, which syndicates the radio programs. The conservative pundits, who have the number one and number two ranked shows in the country, would be wiped from 40 major Cumulus channels.
Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey said the company was still losing money over the fact that Limbaugh called birth control advocate Sandra Fluke a “slut” on the air. Dickey blamed $2.4 million first-quarter decline in revenue on Limbaugh comment.
In May, a source close to Limbaugh told Politico that he was considering ending his contract with Cumulus over the allegation.
Hannity’s show does not churn up quite as much controversy.
Joe Scarborough of MSNBC accused Hannity earlier this month of using the Trayvon Martin shooting to “gun up his ratings.” On his radio show, Hannity responded to President Barack Obama’s speech by asking if the president was admitting that he and Martin both “smoked pot and did a little blow.”
Cumulus and Clear Channel have come to similar deadends before and contract negotiations eventually continue, but the industry source said it appears that this time it is unlikely Clear Channel will relent on the cost of distribution.
It is rumored that Cumulus will simply fill the hole in their schedule with current talent, like Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin or Michael Savage.
The question now is whether Hannity and Limbaugh will move to Clear Channel in those 40 markets.