Radio World is the industry trade publication for radio, mostly read by radio engineers and station owners and managers. They report that Clear Channel is shutting down satellite distribution services to third parties (probably with the longer term objective to stop using it internally)
Satellite was a game changer in the 1960s and beyond, allowing network programming distribution of live events without needing a complex and fragile network of leased phone lines.
Computers and the Internet make all of that technology obsolete. The only real problem is syncing an Internet stream to your show clock, but Internet access is now reliable down to a fraction of a second, less than the round trip to a satellite in geosynchronous orbit.
ABC and Dial Global were the big players in this business – now both owned by Cumulus. Clear Channel (IHeart) exiting this business leaves independent distributors with an unpleasant choice – force their affiliates into the arms of Cumulus or to set up Internet distribution, which is something they should have started 10 years ago.
The saddest thing I’ve seen is a comment on this story, probably by an engineer. He thinks this isn’t feasible because the Internet doesn’t have the bandwidth to support 200 people using the same stream. It could be sarcasm, but I strongly suspect it is ignorance. Clear Channel runs from huge data centers connected to huge fiber optic connections – they are not hanging off a $1000 a month T1 phone line like radio station’s used to do – it’s not the 1990s any more.