It’s goodbye to Clear Channel and welcome back to Lamar Advertising.
In a deal announced Thursday, Lamar Advertising Co. of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has purchased outdoor advertising concerns operated by Clear Channel Outdoor Americas in five U.S. regions. Proceeding in two transactions valued at $458.5 million, the first deal includes markets in Reno, Nevada; Des Moines, Iowa; and the Tacoma-Seattle metroplex. The second transaction includes outdoor markets in Cleveland and Memphis.
“Lamar made a very attractive offer that makes sense for CCOA, given our focus on core markets where we have a strong presence and scale,” said Scott Wells, CEO at the Clear Channel division, in a company release.
Lamar once managed an outdoor advertising operation in the South Sound and later traded its Tacoma interest to Clear Channel.
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The City of Tacoma has long been involved in a dispute with Clear Channel concerning outdoor advertising. In the latest iteration of the conflict, Tacoma City Manager T.C. Broadnax stated late last year that he would explore the city’s enforcement options and develop an enforcement strategy for billboard regulations.
Broadnax told the City Council last month that the city will begin later this year enforcing its law requiring the removal of billboards deemed too large, too ugly or too disruptive.
The city had delayed enforcing the law in hopes of settling a legal flap with Clear Channel, which sued in 2007 arguing the law was unconstitutional. Broadnax told the council that years of trying to rework the billboard law to satisfy both Clear Channel and the public have been unsuccessful.
Tacoma City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli said Friday that there has been no communication with Lamar concerning the sale, nor have city officials yet developed the latest presentation to the council.
“We’re moving forward with our current code,” Pauli said.
She said officials are developing an enforcement strategy that includes criteria for enforcement, a time frame for enforcement and a guide to the next steps.
Currently, she said, “enforcement has been on hold.” That enforcement concerns “nonconforming uses” of outdoor advertising.
“We will be interacting with any billboard owner, Lamar or anybody else, in a professional manner,” she said.
Lamar Advertising provides customers with more than 315,000 displays across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, according to the company website. The company boasts “the largest network of digital billboards in the United States with over 2,200 displays.”
The company manages a transit-ad operation in the Vancouver area of Southwest Washington as well as a full outdoor advertising operation comprising Eastern Washington and parts of Idaho.
“We have all of Spokane, Yakima, Wenatchee and Coeur d’Alene south to Moscow, Idaho, and north to Bonners Ferry,” said Duane Halliday, vice president and general manager at Lamar’s Spokane office, on Friday.
He said the company has experienced no problems with enforcement in Spokane because any nonconforming billboards were “grandfathered.”
He said the company will open an office in the Tacoma-Seattle area. The location of the office, and the timing of the opening, have yet to be decided, he said.
He relishes the Clear Channel sale and the return of Lamar to the South Sound, “I think it’s great. I think it shows Lamar has grown, being able to combine with the East Side and give customers the advertising they want and need.”
Lamar purchased Tacoma-based Sun Media in 1998 for a reported $26.5 million in cash, and Clear Channel Communications, a division of iHeartMedia, acquired Seattle billboard purveyor Ackerley Group in 2002 for $850 million in stock and debt.
On a day of market declines, iHeartMedia stock closed Friday at 90 cents, down 11 cents or 10.89 percent. Lamar shares rose 28 cents, or 0.47 percent, to $60.41.
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535