Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 25, Issue 13, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Monday Morning January 21st, 2008
WGA Strike Central: Day 78
2008 program options; WGA strike continues
The WGA strike began November 5, 2007 and now we're seeing a number of predicted events come to fruition for the industry. Networks are ordering and scheduling a bevy of reality fare for midseason; they've saved a few scripted episodes from most of the fall season to sparsely run in '08 as well. Studios and talent agencies are laying off staff and losing 160 million per week from mothballed TV shows, according to reports. The scripted TV production biz has all but stopped in LA. The studios have axed thousands of employees and dozens and dozens of producer deals under the force majeure clause of their contracts. Regardless of how long the strike runs, there will be a Fall 2008 television season. As it does annually, the Katz Television Group's Programming Department has sent out its Fall 2008 program previews to about 350 client stations. The highly-regarded reviews help determine the programming selection of broadcast stations throughout the country.

According to Bill Carroll, KTVG's Vice President/Director of Programming, the reviews of the programming department are determined by market forces and industry trends. "Now in our second decade of presenting the Katz Television Group Programming Preview, this report is meant to provide updates to our clients on the developments and emerging trends in the world of broadcast syndication," said Carroll. "In this digital age we all face new challenges and opportunities from the Internet and multicasting. But we still need to concentrate on the present by examining the Fall 2007 program performance and the opportunities that exist for next fall and beyond."

TVBR note: For a look at what the folks at Katz see ahead, go to TVBR.com for the review of Fall 2008 programming.

WGA, AMPTP resume negotiations
As predicted, the DGA deal last week has opened the door for more talks, as the WGA will reportedly begin informal talks with AMPTP, possibly as early as today. The WGA will look closely at the DGA contract and use its terms as the basis for new talks. At least one close observer, actor and Sundance Festival founder Robert Redford, expressed optimism that the end of the strike could be on the way this time, on grounds that once management achieves an agreement with one portion of the creative community, the others tend to follow rather quickly.

TV News ®

Up quarter for NBC Universal
General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt praised NBC Universal for growing profits in Q4 for the fifth straight quarter. NBCU revenues were up 8% to 4.55 billion and profits gained 10% to 923 million. GE is expecting NBCU profits to be up 7-10% this quarter, so the writers strike isn't having much impact on the bottom line. "I think the fact that the directors came back [and signed a new contract] is a positive sign. I think we were pleasantly surprised by how well the reality programming has done," Immelt said of how NBC is performing as the WGA strike goes on. "The network results were up in the 4th quarter. That's because our TV content revenue from monetizing our programming more than made up for the ratings pressure," said CFO Keith Sherin. "There's been a lot of discussion of the writers strike. There was no noticeable impact in the 4th quarter. We do have fewer new shows, but we also have lot lower costs," he added. Q4 for GE as a whole was in line with Wall Street expectations. Revenues were up 18% to 48.6 billion and earnings were up 15% to 6.8 billion.

Big shareholder hopes to influence MG
Various investment funds managed by Raymond Harbert and his associates have raised their total ownership of Media General to 18.4% and indicated in an SEC filing that they may seek seats on the company board. The investor group says it may also contact other "significant shareholders" regarding alternatives to enhance shareholder value. Media General's stock price plunged nearly 43% last year. The Harbinger Capital Partners funds, Harbert Management Corporation, portfolio manager Philip Falcone and others associated with Harbert have been aggressively buying Media General shares, nearly doubling their collective holdings in just a few weeks. They aren't spelling out just what they want to change at Media General to unlock shareholder value, but they say they've been investing in the company because they think it represents "an attractive investment."

TVBR observation: In his last conference call, CEO Marshall Morton was asked whether Media General was considering a move to split its newspaper and TV businesses into separate companies as Belo is doing. Morton dismissed the idea, saying that he sees value in keeping the operations together (10/19/07 TVBR #205). Our guess is that Harbert and Falcone may not share that view.

FCC set for further space exploration
That's as in white space, the spectrum in the television zone between licensed broadcast channels, which is being targeted big time by high-tech companies that would like to flood it with unlicensed devices to deliver wireless broadband and other services. Earlier tests have failed, and NAB remains skeptical about this latest round. This latest round of FCC tests will include laboratory test which "...measure the performance capabilities of the prototype devices under controlled conditions," and field test "...conducted at a variety of locations to provide information on the performance of the devices under real world conditions." Testing will begin 1/24/08 and will take four to six weeks. Once the testing is completed, a report will be issued within another four to six weeks, placing its release in April or May if everything stays on track. NAB EVP Dennis Wharton commented, "NAB's paramount objective remains the delivery of interference-free digital broadcast television to more than 100 million American households. We are not opposed to new technology; however, given the failing grade performance and incomplete implementation of the devices submitted in the first round of tests, we have a high degree of skepticism whether tests of these devices will demonstrate that a practical service using portable devices can be introduced without jeopardizing DTV service."

TVBR observation: Testing is one thing. But actually undertaking a radical spectrum experiment like this in the face of the biggest and most challenging spectrum shift in US history -- the DTV transition -- is just crazy. Once television stations are broadcasting in digital, interference won't amount to the infringement of a little static or snow on picture reception; it will essentially wipe out useful reception. The move also puts at risk devices used for remote newsgathering and broadcast of sporting events. NAB notes that 70 members of Congress have expressed their own skepticism at the timing of the white space land grab. Any meaningful action on this front should be put off until the DTV transition has been completed.

DTV, House panel ready to get back
The John Dingell (D-MI)/Ed Markey (D-MA) Show is not reliant on Hollywood writers, and it is ready to go on national TV (C-SPAN, most likely) to take the latest pulse and temperature readings in regards to the DTV transition. The Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet hearing will convene about a year and a week prior to the demise of analog broadcast television. "As the one-year countdown to the DTV transition approaches, it's time to make sure every American household will be able to take advantage of the great benefits this transition promises," said Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. "Right now, I am not confident that government agencies, retailers, broadcasters and all other stakeholders are taking all the steps necessary to ensure consumers are adequately informed and ready for this transition. The Committee will continue its oversight of the DTV transition process until the big day arrives and afterwards, if needed, to ensure consumers are not left behind." Dingell also fired off a "dear colleague" letter urging all members of Congress to take steps to get the word out in their districts. He also detailed basics such as the converter box coupon program.

TVBR observation: We do not share Dingell's lack of confidence. There are loose ends to tie up (and some of them are the responsibility of government decision-makers, like decisions on multicast carriage and protecting low power television). But we fully expect broadcasters to do whatever needs to be done to make sure the transition is a smooth as possible. So let the hearings roll. They will provide an excellent opportunity to restore Chairman Dingell's faith in the civic-mindedness of the broadcasting community. (Shhhhhh! We don't need to tell him it's being taken care of for business reasons.)

Wall Street Business Report TM
Another firm goes broadcast bare
Yet another big Wall Street firm has decided it can do without an analyst focusing on pure-play radio and TV companies. James Dix is gone from Deutsche Bank, where he had been the primary broadcast analyst since 2005 (6/6/05 TVBR #110), when he took over the seat occupied for so long by Drew Marcus, who moved to the investment banking side at DB. Dix had covered Entravision, Radio One, ACME, Beasley, Clear Channel, Entercom, Hearst-Argyle, LIN, Salem, Sirius and XM.

TVBR observation: The pool of broadcast analysts just keeps getting smaller. With both radio and TV stocks so beaten up, many knocked down into penny stock territory, it is easy to see why fewer and fewer brokerage firms see any reason to spend money on covering the sector. Hopefully, that will improve at some point. For now, we expect other media analysts at DB to pick up a few of the pure-play radio and TV stocks.

TVBR News Analysis
Nevada - what Nevada??!
You may note that Republican Ron Paul came in second place in Nevada Saturday. You would never know it, however, by listening to/watching the coverage. CBS Radio News would not mention it, for one at the top of the hour. They, like their Television brethren, focused on South Carolina and briefly the Democratic rankers in NV. MSNBC had a three hour block entitled, "NV Caucus Report" on Comcast listings. During that three hours they only covered SC....it was kind of obvious the pundits and anchors weren't prepared for this much coverage from that state--including Tim Russert and Brian Williams. No live coverage or reporters in Nevada, nothing reported from Nevada. The bank of reporters must have finally hit the slots. They ended up talking about everything from what brand of toilet paper McCain prefers to the car Huckabee drove in college, with South Carolina plastered all over the screen. It seemed an obvious change in planned programming. They would occasionally show the democratic win list and percentages in NV, but didn't seem to follow up with the Republican list. They would briefly mention Hillary's win in NV.

We watched FOX News, MSNBC and CNN an hour and a half straight skipping around and they just wouldn't mention Nevada....all SC. Finally, MSNBC mentioned Romney won Nevada's Republican race and we finally saw a list that included Ron Paul--full screen. But that was it. We never saw Nevada mentioned on CNN or Fox News in the time we were watching. If they did, it must have been minimal. It should be interesting to see what Nevadans think about their state getting absolutely minimum coverage. At least they ran the rankers for the state on the news scroll at the bottom for MSNBC. Perhaps the Ron Paul campaign has a point on media bias. We sure saw it on Saturday night.

Ad Business Report TM

Zenith Media announces reorg
Zenith Media USA, a unit of Publicis Groupe SA, announced a major restructuring of its buying operations on Friday. The reorganization reflects the development from traditional broadcast and cable operations to the "video" marketplace where Zenith has been increasingly successful in driving integrated media programs and content across multiple platforms and venues. Under this new structure, Peggy Green, currently President of Broadcast, becomes Vice Chairman, Zenith Media USA, charged with providing strategic oversight to Zenith's video investments and marketplace approach, reporting to Tim Jones, CEO ZenithOptimedia NA. Green will also lead the agency's relationships with the media vendor community at the highest levels within America's top media companies, developing new initiatives and approaches.

Also, Ava Jordhamo is promoted to EVP Director, National Broadcast, reporting to Wendy Marquardt, President, Zenith Media USA. Green will work directly with Jordhamo and Marquardt to apply marketplace strategies to the agency's clients. National broadcast operations under Jordhamo are structured in line with the Agency's account groups: "ZenithSpheres", which integrate planning and execution operations in client-facing teams. The national broadcast teams within each ZenithSphere are headed by SVP Group Directors: Sophie Aloisio, Sarah Brasfield, Lynn Garone, Cindy Gurmann and Larry Hunt. Matt Feinberg leads national radio, and reports to Jordhamo.

Said Jones: "In 2006, we began the transition from traditional media agency departments to a matrix structure enabling more integrated work via client-facing teams. This latest broadcast reorganization acknowledges the video marketplace as it is today. Our clients support this approach as we have seen exponential growth in executing integrated programs."

Pizza Hut airs Get-Out-The-Vote ad aimed at youth
A new ad encouraging young Americans to get involved in the political process by voting for the next U.S. President. Under the tag "It's your choice. Please vote," the new 30-second ad features two college students, one of whom is questioning whether he should vote in this year's Presidential election. The other student stresses the importance of voting, and encourages the doubting student to let his voice be heard by voting, convincing him to cast his ballot. The company's new Pizza Mia 5 dollar value pizza is shown in the ad as a product placement, but is never referenced or specifically promoted. The ad is the second in a series of Pizza Hut's Pizza Mia Presidential Election ads. It will run in the Presidential primary states of South Carolina and Nevada just before the primaries, and on national network television.

Executive Comment
Worries about how the DTV transition is being handled
Commentary from Amy Brown, Executive Director and Secretary of the Community Broadcasters Association, which represents more than 2,900 Class A and Low Power TV Stations in the US. Imagine this... The FCC and NTIA are being short-sighted in their efforts to complete the digital television transition. One hand doesn't seem to know what the other hand is doing. Don't be surprised when the public ends up confused! While full power TV stations must stop analog broadcasting on February 17, 2009, Class A and LPTV stations and TV translators don't have a deadline. Most of them are likely to keep their analog signals on the air for several more years. Congress appropriated money for NTIA to help analog TV translators buy converters, so that they can pick up digital full power signals and rebroadcast them in analog. That was a great public service and will keep major network and independent services coming to rural and mountainous areas that have trouble receiving distant full power stations. But wait...!
| Read more... |

Amy Brown
1-800-215-7655 ph

Media Business Report TM
Newspaper chains sell newsprint company
SP Newsprint Company announced a deal to be bought by White Birch Paper Company for 350 million in cash. That cash will be going in equal shares to three newspaper companies who currently own SP - Media General, The McClatchy Company and the newspaper division of Cox Enterprises. Media General announced that it expects after-tax proceeds from its share to be 37-40 million, which it will use for debt reduction.

Taking some outdoor profits
Clear Channel Outdoor, which is 89% owned by Clear Channel Communications, is selling its 50% stake in South Africa's largest outdoor advertising company to its partner, Independent News and Media (INM). Bear Stearns analyst Chris Ensley notes that CCO will receive about 127 million bucks worth of INM stock in the deal, which is well above the 46 million value that CCO carries on its balance sheet for the 50% stake - "so CCO is monetizing its stake at 175% over its carrying value." What Ensley wonders now, is this an indication of things to come? He says CCO also has minority stakes in numerous outdoor companies around the world. Excluding the South African stake being sold, the analyst says the remaining stakes are carried on the CCO balance sheet at a total of 51 million. How much more are they worth if monetized?

Washington Business Report TM
DCCC kicks off
Red to Blue campaign

The headline result of the 2006 midterm elections was the ability of the Democratic Party to capture majorities of both houses of Congress in Washington. Now, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is looking to build, according to Congressional Quarterly. To do that, it is going to be providing cash to 10 candidates not currently enjoying employment in Washington. Seven are in districts which supported President George W. Bush over challenger John Kerry, and which at resident to currently have Republican representatives. The catch is that all seven incumbents have announced their retirement, opening an opportunity to make inroads into Republican, or red, territory. The other three opportunities include Illinois 14, where a 3/8/08 special election will fill the seat of former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), out on the early retirement program; LA 6, where Richard H. Baker (R-LA) is expected to resign; and IN 7, the lone district on the list already in Democratic hands, where the grandson of the late Julia Carson is running to fill her seat. The other candidates include John Adler (NJ 3), John Boccieri (OH 16), Charlie Brown (CA 4), Debbie Halvorson (IL 11), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH 15), Linda Stender (NJ 7) and Gary Trauner (WY at large).

TVBR observation: This puts 10 districts into the battleground category, and if they're attracting Democratic cash, they will most likely pull even more from the Republican side. In the sale of advertising time for the political category, location is everything. The DCCC just elevated all of these districts.

here is another transaction brokered by Kalil & Co., Inc.

Cable Business Report TM
Writers? Who needs writers?
No one has to worry about picket lines tonight for a big awards show telecast from the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel. Besides, there won't be any actors receiving awards. In fact, many of the award winners won't even be allowed into the hotel, picket lines or no. So, the winning horses will be represented on video clips as TVG, "America's Horseracing Network," telecasts the Eclipse Awards, regarded as the "Oscars" of horse racing. The most important of the awards is "Horse of the Year," which will be presented at the end of the telecast. While 90% of TVG's airtime is occupied by live race telecasts, with the company taking online wagers in 14 states, network Sr. VP/GM David Nathanson, pictured, told TVBR that even though no wagers will be taken on the awards, the Eclipse Awards telecast is a big draw for breeders, trainers, horse owners and other aficionados of quality horses who may or may not be interesting in the wagering side of the business. With riverboat gambling and Indian casinos popping up in more and more states, Nathanson says increased competition has kept horse race wagering relatively flat in recent years at around 15 billion annually. "The part of the business that we're in, account wagering - also known as ADW, which stands for advanced deposit wagering, where you put money into an account and wager based on money that's in your account - that is the fastest growing segment of the horseracing business, and helping horseracing to continue to grow steadily," Nathanson said. Although TVG, a subsidiary of Gemstar-TV Guide, is licensed to take online wagers in only 14 states, it also sells advertising and is carried on cable and satellite systems in all 50 states, as well as overseas.

Internet Business Report TM
US online ad market gonna boom
Yankee Group announced the US online ad market will reach 50.3 billion in revenue by 2011, more than doubling 2007's revenue. The internet accounts for approximately 20% of overall media consumption in the US, but advertisers currently invest only 7.5% of their budget online. By 2011, nearly 25% of all media consumption will be online, drawing 15% of the ad dollars.

IdeaCast expands
with Transit TV

IdeaCast, a private provider of custom television content and advertising to health clubs announced that it has entered into a strategic sales relationship with Transit TV and will represent the Transit TV advertising inventory to IdeaCast's list of ad clients. In addition, IdeaCast has also entered into a letter of intent with an option to acquire Transit TV in Q2. Transit TV is a major transit-based digital out-of-home adverting network operator with systems installed and operational in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Orlando, Transit TV communicates with over 500 million riders per year on nearly 4,000 vehicles. IdeaCast's plans for Transit TV include expanding the Transit TV network to the top 10 U.S. markets, as well as contracting with Nielsen Media Research to establish metrics and a process for audience measurement for the transit network.

Ratings & Research
Talkers take to the tunnel
That's tunnel as in tunnel vision. As a general rule, talk hosts bounce off whatever is in the news during a given week and amplify it. This week was no exception, but that's amazing when you consider that the Project for Excellence in Journalism news coverage chart for the week of 1/6/08-1/11/08 detailed a 49% focus on the 2008 election. Talkers followed their general rule and amplified the news, allocating an astounding 75% of their available time and space to the election. During a normal week, 3% might get a story on the bottom of the top ten list; this week, it was all that was needed to tie for second (the topics were Iran and immigration). Three stories making the list couldn't even be rounded up to 1%. As with straight journalists, talkers allowed the Mideast travels of President George W. Bush to exist in somewhat of a media vacuum -- it was one of the sub-1% stories.

Monday Morning Makers & Shakers

Transactions: 12/3/07-12/7/07
As detailed in this space, we can say that station trading will sputter to a close during the final days of 2007. In the first week of the last month, a mere five deals involving a mere seven stations hit the FCC's database. For the second week in a row, none of them were television stations. The top deal, noted below, accounted for about two-thirds of total value.



Total Deals







| Complete Charts |
Radio Transactions of the Week
One good niche operator deserves another
| More...
TV Transactions of the Week
Still snoozing.

Stock Talk
Stocks dropped again on Friday
President Bush's proposed economic stimulus package wasn't enough to calm recession fears on Wall Street. The Dow Industrials fell 60 points, or 0.5%, to spend the weekend at 12,099.

Nearly all TV stocks were lower. The TVBR Television Index declined 1.718, or 1.8%, to 91.818. Entravision had a down day, falling 6.3%. Sinclair was down 4.7% and Emmis 4.4%.


Here's how stocks fared on Friday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change





Journal Comm.








Lincoln Natl.


















Clear Channel




Media General
















News Corp.












Equity Media* EMDA 3.30 unch

Ion Media








Saga Commun.












Gen. Electric








Google GOOG











Time Warner




Gray, C1. A




Wash. Post












*Component of the TVBR Television Index


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Below the Fold

TVBR Analysis
Nevada - what Nevada??!
By listening to/watching the coverage. You would not know who is what...

Cable Business Report
Writers? Who needs writers?
No one has to worry about picket lines tonight for a big awards show...

Ad Business Report
Zenith Media reorg
Major restructuring of its buying operations - Who's going Where...

Executive Comment
Worries about how the DTV
How the transition is being handled...

Stations for Sale

Market your Stations For Sale
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Jim Carnegie
[email protected]

TV Media Moves

Rose back at CBS
Charlie Rose isn't leaving the daily interview show he does for PBS, "Charlie Rose," but he is returning to CBS News as a contributor to "60 Minutes." Rose was previously a correspondent for "60 Minutes II" and before than anchored "Nightwatch," the late night news broadcast, for CBS News.

More News Headlines

NBC taps another
cable sibling

With the writers strike continuing, NBC has again looked within NBC Universal and found fare on an NBCU cable network to fill out the Peacock net's schedule. NBC has picked up "Nashville Star," the country music singing competition that has been a success on USA Network for five seasons. A massive multi-city casting search for this year's talent will kick off in early February and, for the first time in the series' run, "Nashville Star" will open the auditions not just to solo artists but also to duets and singing groups who are primed to compete. Another first for season six, in attempt to find the best of the best, the competition will be open to singers 16-years of age and older. The two-hour season premiere will feature a casting special where producers take viewers behind the scenes and introduce them to the best and worst talent vying to be the next "Nashville Star." "Nashville Star" is created by Reveille and produced by 495 Productions and Picture Vision. Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens, Mark Koops and Sallyann Salsano serve as executive producers.

Navy helicopter hit TV broadcast tower
A Navy MH-53 Sea Dragon anti-mine helicopter crashed into the KEDT-TV Corpus Christi antenna and guy wires Wednesday, killing three sailors. The bulk of the charred wreckage was wedged beneath guy wires for the 1,000-foot-tall tower that serves the South Texas Public Broadcasting System. "We went off the air about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday," said Don Dunlap, president and KEDT GM told The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. "We thought it was weather-related and sent a technician who learned parts of the antenna were on the ground." The beacon light was knocked off and components in the top 75 feet of the antenna were damaged, Dunlap said. "It looks like it was hit at about 950 feet," Dunlap said. The station was operating again by about 10:30 a.m. Thursday on low power. Jackson there was no damage to the tower structure itself.

A false alarm
Do you think there were a few spit takes over the morning coffee among members of a certain Smith family located in the Baltimore area, or among those who have one of the Smith's signatures on the bottom of their regular paycheck? The headline, from the Associated Press, read "Sinclair pays 2.45M for air violations." Sinclair is not at all known for indecent broadcasting (above and beyond that which is fed to it from the national networks, at any rate), but it has been known to play close to the edge in the opinions of some when it comes to politics. But it's done nothing that would warrant this kind of hit from the FCC. The answer is that it didn't do anything. The Sinclair in question is Sinclair Oil Corporation, which was fined for fouling the air with emissions from three facilities located in Wyoming and Oklahoma, and it was the EPA, not the FCC, levying the fine. It was not a broadcast matter at all.

TVBR observation: If members of the Sinclair Broadcast Group organization missed this headline and are seeing it the first time, you may now take a retroactive sigh of relief.

Belo gets IRS thumbs up
Belo Corporation announced Friday that it had received a private letter ruling from the IRS that the planned spin-off of Belo's newspaper operations into a separate public company will be a tax-free distribution to shareholders. Belo recently spelled out details of the split, which is due to take place next month (1/14/08 TVBR #8).

RBR - Radio News

December silver lining: Easy 2008 comps
What else can you say about a quarter in which business continued to be recorded in red ink? The combination of a -4% performance in local and -12% showing from national produced a traditional business loss measured at -6% by the Radio Advertising Bureau and Miller Kaplan Arase & Co. Non-spot business provided a positive 12% to counterbalance national's negative 12%, but it was only enough to shave one percentage point off the overall loss, bringing the month of December home at -5% compared to December 2006. CL King & Associates analyst Jim Boyle says the December expectation on Wall Street was a 2% drop, so news of the 5% deficit may be an indicator of a coming recession. He said Q4 will likely come in at -4. Boyle says "it's time to monetize the P-1s, time for dual-revenue streams." That means enticing loyal fans to interact with the station on its website, utilizing the tech savvy and cultural intimacy of its youngest employees to lead the way.

To Victor Miller at Bear Stearns, on the other hand, the December drop was within the expectation zone, and he further refined his guess as to overall Q4 performance to a -4.3% drop, with a 1% non-tradition bonus on top of a -5.3% combined local/national result. For 2007 as a whole, those numbers are expected to be -3% for traditional, leavened to -2% when non-traditional is factored in. Miller also provided Q4 projections for key public companies. None seem likely to escape red ink when recording comps. The projections include Entercom (-1%); Cox (-2.5%); Clear Channel (-3%); Cumulus (-3.5%); Salem (-3.7%); Radio One (-5%); Citadel (-5.5%, stations only); Beasley (-6%, same station); and CBS (-7%).

RBR observation: The good news: 2007 is over. The bad news: 2008 looks like more of the same despite the expected shot in the arm from political. Miller thinks the business projects flat, and while nobody is likely to be thrilled about duplicating a bad set of results, it does beat drilling down further.

TVBR Radar 2008
Television News you won't read any where else. TVBR--First, Accurate, and Independently Owned.

WGA Strike Central, Day 75
DGA strikes tentative deal
with AMPTP
The Directors Guild of America has reached a tentative deal with AMPTP on a new three year contract, after only six days of negotiation. The pact was announced last Thursday afternoon. Most say the next round of WGA talks (they collapsed most recently on 12/7) will be based on how DGA's contract is crafted. The new contract addresses compensation of union members for use and re-use of their work on the net-hopefully the framework will be acceptable for future WGA talks. DGA will be presenting the deal to its 13,500 members for ratification. DGA negotiations began 1/12 and were held at AMPTP headquarters in Encino, CA.
01/18/08 TVBR #12

Latest network primetime
schedule changes

Carat Programming's Broadcast and Video Beat reports the time period premiere of Terminator: Sara Connor Chronicles fell by 45% in both total viewers and Adults 18-49 versus its special debut the previous night. CBS has ordered three new non-scripted programs. Game Show in My Head (Ashton Kutcher's, Katalyst Films) is adapted from a British format. See the latest January/February 2008 primetime grids in this TVBR report.
01/18/08 TVBR #12

Station trading in the
3rd Quarter of 2007
Few industry movers and shakers are as handcuffed to the regulatory environment in the same way that M&A players in the broadcast field are. Radio deregulation that was included in Telecom 1996 spawned an Oklahoma Land Rush for radio stations in the top markets. At the same time, the lack of any meaningful dereg for television trading put it into the doldrums.As a result, top-market radio trading remains becalmed. Meanwhile, a couple of years ago, traders sitting on TV properties gave up waiting for the FCC finally started making deals again, and it was a good thing, as the FCC declined once and for all to offer any dereg to the industry last December. So after years of radio dominance in station trading, television is taking over. And the big money is coming not so much from stations changing hands, but from station groups retreating from Wall Street and going private.

TVBR note: Complete analysis with stats and charts at TVBR.com Intelligence Brief section.

Will private equity go
under the microscope?

On the whole, it was a typical, uneventful January FCC Open Meeting yesterday (1/17/08). The first annual edition of these monthly events generally serves as a review of the preceding year (as in other years, we learned that much was accomplished due to the hard work of dedicated staff). But it did feature some navel gazing on the topic of broadcast finance which may be worth a look. Private equity funding has always been available to broadcast companies, and participation on Wall Street has often been the exception rather than the rule. But that is not stopping FCC Commissioner Michael Copps (D) from wondering about their fitness of private equity funds as a steward of our national airwaves.

RBR observation: If not 2008, why not 2009? If Copps, Adelstein or another like-minded Democrat takes over the FCC's center chair, they could certainly kick off such a project. However, we would point out two things which we hope will ease Copps' mind at least a little. First, at a time when broadcast companies are having difficulty posting healthy revenue results, it is a good thing for people with cash to come in and put some capital into the business in order to better serve the public. Second, since the "hardware" of a broadcast company -- the broadcast station -- is licensed by the government, any and all transactions are available for regulator scrutiny. Say for example that XXX Broadcasting tries to sell a group of stations to a loosely-independent company like ZZZ Broadcasting, a sham corporation which is in fact traceable back to XXX, in order to put false profit on the! books and jack up the stock price. Such a move would be spotted instantly by the very FCC Copps works for as currently structured. Corporate malfeasance is much more difficult to pull off for companies public or private that operate in a government-licensed arena.
01/18/08 RBR #12

WGA Strike Central, Day 74
WGA likely to bar members
from Grammys

The WGA is likely to bar its members from working on next month's Grammys, Writers Guild of America spokesman Gregg Mitchell said. And WGA grants waiver for NAACP awards gala WGA West, meanwhile, says it will sign an interim waiver/agreement with the NAACP for its 39th NAACP Image Awards.
01/17/08 TVBR #11

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