Whether Limbaugh's show is in the midst of the death throes, only time will tell. But one thing is clear, the radio industry has never seen anything like the sponsorship controversy surrounding Limbaugh's once-untouchable program. And it's certainly never seen anything like the wholesale decision by his syndicator, Premier Radio Networks, to suspend barter ads for two weeks in an apparent effort to ride out the controversy. That was soon followed by news that advertisers are requesting Limbaugh's affiliated stations provide "Rush-free programming grids" so sponsors can verify that their brands aren't appearing on his show.
"It's unprecedented," Holland Cooke, a talk radio consultant, tells Media Matters. He says Premiere's startling advertising move "suggests things are worse than we know."
The question is: How long will stations be able to sustain the ad losses on Limbaugh's show, and how does the host justify his $400 million pay in the face of the advertiser revolt?
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