Radio Giant Clear Channel's Syndication Arm Defends Rush Limbaugh

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NEW YORK - Despite a controversy that has seen advertisers and stations end their association with Rush Limbaugh, Clear Channel Communications' radio syndication arm Premiere Networks remains committed to the conservative talk host, whose show it syndicates to nearly 600 stations around the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal.

Premiere is "committed to providing its listeners with access to a broad range of opinion and commentary without condoning or agreeing with the opinions, comments or attempts at humor expressed by on-air talent," the company said, according to the paper. "We respect the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions."

The Rush Limbaugh Radio Show has lost at least two stations and a slew of advertisers after his attack on Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke, whom he called a "slut" and "prostitute" last week for advocating insurance coverage of contraceptives. Premiere said that Limbaugh had made "an attempt at absurdist humor to illustrate his political point," but "used words that unfortunately distracted from the message he was trying to convey," according to the Journal.

The company, which estimates that the host attracts an audience of up to 20 million per week, added that Limbaugh "did the right thing on Saturday, and again [Monday] morning on his radio show, by expressing regret for his choice of words and offering his sincere and heartfelt apology."

Clear Channel is owned by private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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