Is 2008 "a year in the balance" for radio? Bear Stearns analyst Victor Miller asked that question at the opening for the annual Dickstein Shapiro financing session that kicked off the NAB Radio Show in Charlotte. For the first time since radio deregulation in 1996, TV stocks now trade at a higher average EBITDA multiple than radio stocks. That’s come about because the average pure-play TV stock is up 35% this year, while the average radio stock (excluding Clear Channel and Cumulus, who have buyout deals to go private) is down 30%. Miller said television is benefiting from multiple revenue streams, including retransmission consent payments, and expectations that the 2008 election cycle should bring record political spending.
The best Miller could say for radio, though, is that it may have to deal with fewer negatives in 2008. Satellite radio is dealing with its own problems. Mainstream operators who have seen ratings and revenues shift to radio groups focused on Hispanic and Urban formats stand to bounce back as PPM rolls out to more markets.