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Assistant Attorney General R. Hewitt Pate told Congress on Thursday that the Department of Justice has two pending antitrust investigations against Clear Channel Communications Inc. One investigation involves allegations that Clear Channel is requiring recording artists to use its concert promotion business in order to receive air time on its radio stations, Pate told the House Judiciary Committee. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Pate said the second investigation involves allegations that Clear Channel is attempting to exert monopoly power over radio in Southern California through the use of U.S. and Mexico-based stations. Pate said the antitrust division had interviewed witnesses in regard to the investigations. He declined to comment on how advanced the investigations were or whether they would result in antitrust charges against the San Antonio-based radio giant. A Clear Channel official in San Antonio referred calls to Andrew Levin, the company’s Washington-based senior vice president for government relations, who was not immediately available for comment. In a Jan. 30 statement issued in conjunction with his appearance on Capitol Hill, Clear Channel chairman Lowry Mays said the company does not use the threat of reduced airplay to force musicians to use its concert promotion business. “Radio play lists are determined solely by what audiences want to hear,” he said. In his testimony, Mays did not address the Southern California market issue. But he said that, generally speaking, radio is the least consolidated segment of the media or entertainment industry, noting that Clear Channel owns only 9 percent of U.S. radio stations. Clear Channel has been a lightning rod for criticism in Congress, with many lawmakers complaining that the company has abused Federal Communications Commission rules to dominate local radio markets. It is often cited during debates on whether it is appropriate for the FCC to deregulate other media markets as it did radio. Pate also said the antitrust division is investigating why the Baby Bells have not moved into each other’s markets. Yet he suggested this investigation was unlikely to result in charges, noting that unilateral decisions not to enter markets do not violate the law. Only if there is evidence of an explicit agreement to allocate markets would the antitrust division file suit, he said. He also said that given the complaints that the Baby Bells have about long-distance carriers and others using FCC rules to gain access to their local networks, it may be reasonable for the Baby Bells to refrain from using those same provisions to enter other Baby Bell markets. “If we find evidence of an illegal agreement, we will pursue it aggressively,” Pate said. Pate appeared with Federal Trade Commission Chairman Timothy J. Muris as part of a periodic oversight hearing. Pate identified the News Corp.-DirecTV, First Data Corp./Concord EFS Inc. and General Electric Co.-Instrumentarium deals as the three mergers using the most resources at the division. Copyright �2003 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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