Rush Limbaugh blamed for poor ad sales, could leave Cumulus

Posted By Kristen Butler,  |  May 6, 2013 at 4:17 PM
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Rush Limbaugh says he's not to blame for declining revenue at his flagship radio station, WABC. The conservative talk radio host could leave when his contract expires at the end of the year if bosses keep saying it's his fault.

The claims stem from a February 2012 show in which Limbaugh called law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a "prostitute" after she testified before Washington lawmakers urging mandated insurance coverage of birth control.

Outraged groups called on advertisers to drop Limbaugh’s show, and hundreds, including Sears, Geico, John Deere, Netflix, Capitol One and the New York Lottery, did.

Lew Dickey, CEO of WABC parent company Cumulus, said Limbaugh’s controversial comments have diminished ad revenue for the past year, and the station remains slumped in a "residual hangover."

Limbaugh told New York Daily News that “Lew needs someone to blame, [so] he’s pointing fingers instead of fixing his own sales problem.” Limbaugh has maintained that departing advertisers were replaced, and a source close to the show said ad revenue was “very minimally impacted in the short term.”

Dickey told analysts that the Fluke controversy cost Cumulus “a couple of million” in the first quarter of 2012 and another "couple of million” in the second quarter. Cumulus was “hit pretty hard by this,” he said, attributing nearly a third of Cumulus' 3.5 percent drop for that period to Limbaugh's comments.

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