Cumulus to stop distributing ABC News Radio at the end of 2014
ABC News Radio’s distribution deal with radio giant Cumulus Media is coming to an end.
In a note to employees Thursday, recently appointed ABC News President James Goldston said the Walt Disney Co.-owned radio news organization will handle its own distribution and marketing to stations starting in January.
“We’re taking these important steps now to work more closely with our terrific, long-standing station partners and better position us for digital audio growth in the future,” Goldston said in his note.
ABC News Radio’s main Los Angeles outlet is currently Cumulus’ KABC-AM (790), where it has been broadcast for decades. A number of non-Cumulus stations in the Los Angeles area also carry ABC News content.
It’s not clear what stations will carry ABC News Radio once the changes take effect on Jan. 1, though the company said the end of the Cumulus pact will allow it to make deals with other stations.
People familiar with the deal said Cumulus has been paying ABC roughly $17 million a year.
The development comes just days after Cumulus struck a deal with CNN to bring the Turner network’s news programming to terrestrial radio stations.
A person familiar with the situation said it is highly unlikely that Cumulus stations such as KABC will continue to carry ABC news programming next year, given that the company has access to other programmers’ content.
ABC News Radio’s vice president and general manager Steve Jones said the expiration of the Cumulus deal will let ABC work with stations more closely and deliver more content, especially in entertainment.
While with Cumulus, ABC hasn’t been able to offer broadcasts from entertainment programs such as “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The View” or “GMA,” though those spots have been available on digital radio outlets such as Slacker.
“We’ve chosen to take a different route to serve our radio stations more directly,” Jones said in an interview. “We think we’re going to provide more to stations than we currently can.”
ABC News Radio said it will work with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Skyview Networks for help with sales and distribution.
Currently ABC’s radio arm provides content to almost 2,000 radio stations in the United States and says it reaches 50 million listeners each week.
A representative of Cumulus, which owns and operates 460 stations across the nation, did not have an immediate comment.
Shares of Cumulus Media were down 9% in midday trading on Thursday. Disney’s shares fell less than 1%.
Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder
From the Emmys to the Oscars.
Get our revamped Envelope newsletter, sent twice a week, for exclusive awards season coverage, behind-the-scenes insights and columnist Glenn Whipp’s commentary.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.