Is Rush Limbaugh Winning? Protesting Advertisers See Stock-Price Slide, Buying Opportunity?

 @JaceyFortin
on March 07 2012 11:20 AM
Rush Limbaugh
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh predicts that gay marriage will become legal 'nationwide.' Reuters

At least 29 advertisers have pulled their sponsorship from Rush Limbaugh's radio program--and now they may be paying the price.

On Monday, the incendiary broadcaster bid a smug farewell to those who had jumped ship. These advertisers who have split the scene have done very well due to their access to you, my audience, from this program, he said. To offer their products and services to you through this venue is the best opportunity that they have ever had to advertise their wares... They've decided they don't want you or your business anymore. So be it.

When Limbaugh called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a slut for supporting insurance coverage of contraceptive healthcare, he faced widespread condemnation and eventually apologized. For his critics, it wasn't enough. They set out to pull the plug by inundating his sponsors with emails and petitions, threatening boycott. It worked; Politico reports that by Wednesday morning, at least 29 companies had pulled their ads.

But now those companies are discovering that snubbing Limbaugh was a dicey move. Bill Gunderson, a financial manager and columnist, reports that stocks are down for the nine publicly traded companies who ditched The Rush Limbaugh Show. Turns out that sanctimony has a price, he wrote in an email.

Take Carbonite, which revoked sponsorship last week as CEO David Friend announced that Limbaugh had overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Now, their stock is down 12 percent.

Rush's listeners trust Rush more than Carbonite. So they are dumping their subscriptions... or not signing up, Gunderson wrote.

Then there's Sleep Number: down four percent. Citrix: down four. Polycom: down 11. Netflix: down seven. Huge companies like Sears, JCPenney, Sears and AOL are also watching investors bail.

It seems that Limbaugh's army of listeners is proving its strength.

The fact is, Limbaugh is the most popular radio personality on earth. There's no official count on his total audience, but estimates ranging from 14 to 30 million put him ahead of every competitor. He enjoys considerable public influence, which also gives him significant political power; last Sunday, media commentator George Will noted that Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they're afraid of Rush Limbaugh.

Logistics, too, are on Limbaugh's side. Advertising Age reports that since his show is syndicated on hundreds of locally-based networks, it's nearly impossible to track down all of his sponsors. Many companies that buy ad slots on radio stations don't even know whether they air during Limbaugh's show.

The powerful pundit is confident that the show will go on. He enjoys the support of Premiere Radio Networks, which manages his broadcast. We respect the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions, said the company in a statement. And as new companies pull their sponsorship every day, Limbaugh says good riddance.  They are never going to apologize to you or me or any of us, he said on Monday. That's the difference between them and us, and it's one more reason why ultimately we will prevail over them.

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