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Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 23, Issue 226, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Monday Morning November 20th, 2006

TV News ®

Clear Channel deal requires creativity
Private equity funds are moving into broadcasting in a big way, but they have to dodge some landmines at the FCC. Thomas H. Lee Partners already has a 23.3% attributable interest in the group buying Univision and both it and Bain Capital hold 25% attributable ownership stakes in Cumulus Media Partners, so it is going to take a creative ownership structure to make their 26.7 billion buy of Clear Channel comply with the FCC's ownership rules. No one is saying yet how the ownership issues will be dealt with, but it has already been worked out. The contract between Clear Channel and BT Triple Crown Merger Co. (the official name of the buyout consortium) states that one part of the related disclosure statements, which are not publicly filed with the SEC, sets fourth the attributable interests of the acquiring entity as far as the FCC is concerned. It also states that "no waiver of, or exemption from, any provision of the Communications Act or the rules, regulations and policies of the FCC is necessary to obtain the FCC Consent." At another point in the contract, it states that anyone who has an attributable interest in BT Triple Crown Merger Co. shall render non-attributable any interest elsewhere which would constitute a conflict with the FCC's ownership rules. So, the ownership structure has already been decided - we just have to wait for the FCC application filing to find out what it is. What is sure is that Clear Channel isn't going to have to get rid of stations because it is in the same markets as Univision and/or Cumulus Media Partners. That would require so many divestitures that this deal wouldn't make any sense.

TVBR observation: Lowry Mays and other folks have dealt with this issue before, so they know how to solve FCC attribution problems. Back when Clear Channel merged Heftel Broadcasting, which it owned 100%, with Tichenor Media to create what was then the nation's largest Hispanic radio group, it took a non-voting and non-attributable stake in the new company, Hispanic Broadcasting Company (now part of Univision) so both Clear Channel and HBC could each own up to the maximum allowable number of stations in the same markets. Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, a private equity firm that has been active in broadcasting for a long time, was formerly a major shareholder of Clear Channel as a result of its merger acquisition of AMFM Inc. To avoid an attribution problem when Hicks, Muse became the largest shareholder of LIN Television, it took only non-voting stock in LIN, while two super-voting shares were created to make sure that outside directors were able to oversee LIN management. After selling its shares in Clear Channel last year, Hicks, Muse recently acquired one of those super-voting shares and now has an attributable interest in LIN. The folks at Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital are investors, not operators, so they don't care about having direct voting control of Clear Channel (or Cumulus Media Partners or Univision), just so long as someone they trust is looking after their financial interests.

So close to the ground Parachutes won't be needed
Since Lowry, Mark and Randall Mays will not be leaving as new ownership takes over Clear Channel Communications, their golden parachutes which would have paid them tens of millions in the event they were removed from their executive positions or quit for cause will not be activated. Instead, the three have cut new deals with their new investors, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital, greatly reducing the amounts they will be due if they have a falling out with their new partners. Instead of a lump-sum severance of seven times his salary and highest bonus for the past three years, which would be at least 26 million plus, Lowry Mays, currently Chairman, has agreed to cut that to zero and also relinquished any claim to a million stock options, although he would still receive his salary, bonus and accrued vacation through the termination date. Clearly, the company co-founder is not planning to play a major day-to-day role in Clear Channel once the buyout closes. CEO Mark Mays has agreed to cut a similar seven times salary and bonus, worth at least 13 million, to 2.99 times, which is less than half. President and COO Randall Mays, who is paid only slightly less than his brother, also agreed to cut his golden parachute from seven times to 2.99 times. Both also agreed to forego a million stock options in the event they are fired without cause or quite for good reason.


Martin: a Yes Yes Yes
In fact, the ayes were it, as FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was confirmed by a unanimous Senate for a second tour of duty at the Commission. This one could take him into the next decade or to the next Democratic administration, whichever comes first. Martin was named Chairman 3/18/05 and nominated for a second term by President George W. Bush 4/25/06. He was confirmed before the election break by the Commerce Committee led by Ted Stevens (R-AK), who said, "I'm pleased that we were finally able to clear Chairman Martin. He is a fine chairman, and I am delighted that he will have another term to continue his work at the FCC." NAB President/CEO David K. Rehr echoed Stevens, saying, "NAB has great respect for Chairman Martin and strongly supported his renomination. We look forward to working with him and the other FCC Commissioners going forward." Martin was also pleased by the development, saying "I am deeply honored to have been confirmed by the Senate for a second term as Commissioner and Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. I thank President Bush and the Congress for the privilege to continue to serve in his Administration and alongside my colleagues on the Commission. I look forward to working with the Administration and Congress, as well as with my fellow Commissioners and the incredibly able staff at the FCC to ensure that all Americans share in the benefits and opportunities offered by the best communications system in the world. I will continue to work to provide a regulatory environment that promotes competition and drives investment and innovation while protecting consumers and promoting public safety."

TVBR observation: Martin's predecessor Michael Powell often noted that the role of the Commission as a Congress-created agency was to do the bidding of Congress. When he found himself in the middle of a controversy (at the FCC, some would say that is the equivalent of showing up for work), he said that Congressional instruction would be preferable to broad stroke policy created by non-elected officials. He rarely if ever got the legislative instruction he craved. We suspect Martin, like Powell a Republican, will have the opposite problem, now that a Congress controlled by the Democrats is getting ready to take over. As it is, the commissioners have been regularly summoned across the Mall to Capitol Hill to explain themselves with Republicans in charge over the past few years. That only figures to increase as extremely alert Democratic watchdogs with a fondness for communications issues get ready to set the agenda and decide what needs a little TLO. That's tender loving oversight.

EchoStar finds help on Hill
after losing in court

Wayne Allard (R-CO) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have come to the aid of satellite MVPD EchoStar in its long-running battle to import distant network affiliates into certain localities, a move opposed by the NAB and shot down in the courts. The senators were worried that the 800K affected subscribers would lose access to broadcast network programming. "Without distant signals, many satellite subscribers around the country will not be able to watch a network affiliate, which is a primary source of news, sports and entertainment for many," said Allard. The NAB contends that this is nonsense. EVP Media Relations Dennis Wharton said, "NAB strongly opposes a bail-out by Congress of a habitual copyright infringer that has skimmed millions of dollars infringing copyrights and violating the law on a nationwide basis for eight years or more. The fact is consumers will not lose access to broadcast network programming when the court decision goes into effect. Consumers have a variety of easy options to receive broadcast network programming." EchoStar itself pointed to the constricted legislative calendar during this lame duck session as a stumbling block which it may not be able to overcome, saying, "Unfortunately, because of a court ruling that requires EchoStar to stop transmitting these signals by 12/1/06 and the imminent adjournment of Congress, it appears that innocent consumers will lose their network signals before Congress can act on this important legislation."

TVBR observation: Here's what the Court said last spring: "As if the magnitude of its ineligible subscriber base were insufficiently disconcerting, we have found no indication that EchoStar was ever interested in complying with the Act. Indeed, based on the district court's findings, we seem to have discerned a 'pattern' and 'practice' of violating the Act in every way imaginable." EchoStar is getting to be like Michael in the Halloween movies. You think this issue has been dealt with and it just keeps on coming back. Maybe Donald Pleasance will show up and finally put this matter to bed once and for all. Meanwhile, Jamie Lee Curtis, if you're out there, make sure somebody has your back...


Senate battlefield 2008
When it comes to in-state political spending, only campaigns for governor can rival the warchests commanded by members of the US Senate. And that is not to mention those who would challenge them. As we saw this year, national organizations picked their spots and funneled boatloads of money to states where the race was seen as competitive. And when one national organization attacks, counterparts are forced in to defend. 33 senate seats will be on the ballot in 2008, and the news for Republicans is not good. They will be playing defense again, with 22 seats to defend, leaving the Democrats to hold on to only 11. The most notable from a broadcast perspective is probably Ted Stevens (R-AK), filling out his last few weeks as chair of the Commerce Committee; presumably when the 110th Congress begins he'll be co-chair/ranking member. To see if your state in on the senatorial map for 2008,
| Look here |

Barton stays put?
The brief skirmish in the US House of Representatives over who would assume the mantle of Minority Leader ended last week, and the upshot for the communications industries is that it probably will result in the return of Joe Barton (R-TX) to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Barton withdrew from the race for the top leadership role among Republicans before it came to a vote, leaving it to Mike Pence (R-IN) to lose to odds-on favorite John Boehner (R-OH), who repeated his victorious intramural ways after earning the Majority Leader post in the wake of the departure of Tom DeLay earlier this year. That more than likely leaves Barton with the top Republican slot at Commerce, although he will have to get used to operating on the minority side of the aisle. Barton has been a champion of the Telecom rewrite which promised to pave the way of telcos into the MVPD business via a national franchising regime (which would conditionally apply to cable as well). The national franchise part of the legislation had widespread bipartisan support, but the failure of Republicans to include protections for Internet neutrality spurred opposition from most Democrats and some Republicans, and although Barton was able to push his version through the House, net neutrality was primarily responsible for stalling the bill on the Senate side.

TVBR observation: The Republican party discipline DeLay was famous for enforcing in the House was evident in the Commerce Committee. Work on the Telecom bill started out with talk of bipartisanship and building from areas of agreement, and wound up with disgruntled Democrats and a party-line vote on a bill shaped as Republican leadership wanted it. Democrats received their five minutes of open mic time at each hearing, but were rarely able to add or subtract language from a bill unless Barton and Fred Upton (R-MI) decided it was acceptable. It seemed that compromise was rarely an option. By contrast, the Senate Commerce Committee often featured genuine give and take, and how a member would vote on a key item was not always predictable based on party affiliation. While we expect little change in the culture of the Senate Commerce Committee, we expect dramatic change on the House side. If you want to see how it's going to be for the communications industry on the Hill for the next two years, this is the place to watch.


Wall Street Media Business Report TM
Strong month for Belo TV
Much like other newspaper/TV companies, Belo reports that October revenues were up double digits at its TV group, while newspaper revenues were down. Belo is up overall year-to-date, but only because TV gains have overcome print declines. October TV spot revenues were up 29% to 76.5 million. 20.7 million in political advertising was the big contributor, with national spot up 3.3% but local down 5.5%. Belo also noted that ad revenues from its TV station websites rose 56%. Aside from advertising, other TV revenues were up 10.1% to 6.4 million, so total TV revenues grew 27.3% in October to 82.9 million. Meanwhile, newspaper ad revenues fell 6.6% to 58.2 million, with retail, general and classified all down. Other print revenues rose 0.7% to 12.6 million, so total newspaper revenues were down 5.4% for the months to 70.7 million.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite lawsuit
The price for Clear Channel is too low. The directors of the company are not acting to maximize the value of the company. And they are cutting current shareholders out of the company's future successes. These are the charges of a suit from Lou Ann Murphy seeking an injunction to stop the transaction, or damages in the event it can't be stopped, according to a Reuters report. Murphy is seeking class action status. With interested members recused, Clear Channel board members are said to have signed off on the 26.7B cash/debt deal with Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners.


Ad Business Report TM

Starcom signs with
TNS for digital
audience measurement

Not long after announcing its technology might be more useful in the quest for Commercial Ratings than Nielsen's Commercial Minute Ratings service (10/27/07 TVBR #210), TNS Media Research signed a deal with Starcom USA to provide its new second-by-second digital audience measurement service. Starcom is the first agency to sign onto the service, which is based on anonymous set top box data coming from 300,000 Charter Communications digital subscribers in LA. And yes, the service will also include commercial viewing-through the integration of TNS MI ad occurrence data with Charter viewing data, Starcom will be able to analyze and evaluate second-by-second commercial ratings, and the behavior of commercial audiences. "The advertising industry has long called for the emergence of second-by-second viewing data, and as such the TNS research is an invaluable tool for understanding the new digital consumer," said Chris Boothe, president/chief activation officer, Starcom USA. "We are excited that our partnership with TNS Media Research will garner a deeper understanding of viewing habits and patterns in the digital world that will enable us to provide enhanced insight to our clients." TNS processes Charter's anonymous set top data and allows for next-day analysis through its InfoSys media analysis and planning system. InfoSys allows end-users to analyze media data in depth including day part and program studies, target group studies, lead in/lead out studies, duplication analyses, minute-by-minute flow studies and competitive reports. Most of the industry is still analyzing minute-by-minute data. But because most TV ads are 30 seconds, it's been a "weighting" game to get the data. TNS's system doesn't measure time-shifted DVR viewing yet.

TVBR observation: TNS is offering its service to clients mostly in conjunction to what Nielsen offers, rather than supplanting Nielsen. "You can get some of the data from Nielsen and some of it from us" has been the pitch we've understood. So it's up to the clients. TNS is likely not aiming at the currency business per se. With this TNS service, you still have the ongoing problem of measuring with a digital set top box-you don't know if the TV set it turned on or who is watching.


Media Markets & Money TM
I see England, I see France...
Now that we've gotten that little bit of juvenilia out of our system, we note a couple of developments from across the pond. First England, where the Murdoch family of News Corp. fame has apparently stunned the media world by taking a 1B stake in commercial broadcasting outfit ITV. According to The Independent's online edition, ITV has been contemplating a merger with cable operator NTL (Richard Branson's outfit) and compete with the BBC and BSkyB, which perhaps not coincidentally is owned by: the Murdoch family. Speculation on the motivation for the move is rampant, but the Murdoch's are claiming no grand scheme other than investing in a company with growth potential, while otherwise playing their cards close to the chest. On to France, where Vivendi is said to be contemplating an exit from NBC Universal, in which it has a 20% state. An item in CNNMoney.com says the exit may come as early as January 2007. And it might not - the company has exit windows in the first month of 2008, 2009 and 2011 as well. And in January 2010, NBCU has the option to punt Vivendi whether it wants out or not. If the date of an exit is unknown, the prospect for one is good. Vivendi CFO Jacques Espinasse told analysts, "There will be one day Vivendi will be out of NBCU."


Washington Media Business Report TM
FCC says waivers are Hoak-ey dokey
Hoak Media's 86.8M acquisition of Wicks Group television stations in the Dakota involved eight stations in three markets. There was a standalone in Fargo ND, along with a quartet in Bismarck ND and a threesome in Sioux Falls SD. Anybody who has been in broadcasting in the Midwest would likely recognize this immediately as a standard flagship/satellite set-up common to sparsely populated areas. To acquire these stations as ongoing concerns in the manner they had been doing business, Hoak was forced to prove several criteria to justify the arrangement. The company showed no overlap between stations, it showed that the areas are underserved, and it showed that no alternative operator was available to go into the areas and provide service by either buying or constructing a stations. Brokerage firm Kalil & Co.'s Kelly Callan entered testimony into the record to the effect that the stations were unmarketable as separate entities. Nobody thought the stations could survive except as a flagship/satellite package.

TVBR observation: If it were economically feasible to run the satellite stations as standalones, they would be. But it isn't. The alternative to operating small town TVs as satellites is to tear them down. They serve the public interest, for crying out loud - it's the satellite or it's nothing. Maybe there should be a rulemaking which would allow transferees to note on the application that the TV cluster is set up the only way it can be economically, that it's already been proven, and if there are any questions after reviewing the established proof which is already on the record, it can be asked when the contract for sale is being reviewed. It seems silly to continue these satellite station reviews, which always seem to do nothing more than reaffirm an arrangement that has already received regulatory approval from the very same FCC.


Entertainment Media Business Report TM
Fox orders more "Standoff"
and "Til Death"

These two shows are keepers as far as Fox is concerned. Peter Liguori, President, Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company, announced that the network has ordered six more episodes of "Standoff" and nine more of "Til Death." Standoff is a cop drama starring Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt. It was created by Craig Silverstein, executive-produced by Silverstein and Tim Story, and is a 20th Century Fox Television Production. Til Death is a sitcom starring Brad Garrett, Joely Fisher, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Kat Foster. Created and executive-produced by Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa, Til Death is a Sony Pictures Television production.


Monday Morning Makers & Shakers

Transactions: 10/2/06-10/6/06
Do you wanna talk slow? OK, let's talk slow. This week was slow. Four transactions for four stations. No FMs. Only one deal valued more than 300K. Where'd everybody go? We haven't the foggiest idea, but maybe we should've gone there too.

10/2/06-10/6/06

Total

Total Deals

4

AMs

2

FMs

0

TVs

2
Value
21.134M
| Complete Charts |
Radio Transactions of the Week
Birmingham sleeper leads the pack
| More...
|
TV Transactions of the Week
Double dipper for Springfield double
| More...
|


Stock Talk
Stocks end week mixed
A drop in new home construction kept a lid on Wall Street trading Friday. The Dow Industrials still managed to reach another record high, climbing 37 points, or 0.3%, to 12,343. The S&P 500 was slightly higher and the Nasdaq Composite fell a bit.

TV stocks were mostly lower. Gray Television (common) fell 2.9%. Journal dropped 2.7%.


Stocks

Here's how stocks fared on Friday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change

Acme

ACME

5.15

unch

LIN TV

TVL

9.10

+0.06

Belo

BLC

18.51

-0.09

McGraw-Hill

MHP

65.34

+0.08

CBS CI. B CBS

29.80

+0.02

Media General

MEG

38.17

+0.06

CBS CI. A CBSa

29.65

-0.08

Meredith

MDP

53.35

-0.26

Clear Channel

CCU

35.22

-0.14

News Corp.

NWS

22.09

-0.10

Disney

DIS

32.94

-0.12

Nexstar

NXST

4.18

-0.16

Emmis

EMMS

12.42

-0.20

NY Times

NYT

24.55

-0.08

Entravision

EVC

7.40

-0.03

Ion Media

ION

0.77

-0.01

Fisher

FSCI

44.63

+0.58

Saga Commun.

SGA

8.67

-0.12

Gannett

GCI

59.87

-0.10

SBS

SBSA

3.96

-0.02

Gen. Electric

GE

36.25

+0.29

Scripps

SSP

49.50

-0.35

Granite

GBTVK

0.06

-0.01

Sinclair

SBGI

9.52

-0.12

Gray

GTN

6.10

-0.18

Time Warner

TWX

20.43

+0.10

Gray, C1. A

GTNa

6.80

+0.02

Tribune

TRB

32.25

-0.06

Hearst-Argyle

HTV

25.49

-0.14

Univision

UVN

35.44

+0.09

Journal Comm.

JRN

11.50

-0.32

Wash. Post

WPO

733.79

+1.79

Lincoln Natl.

LNC

65.18

-0.44

Young

YBTVA

2.27

-0.22


Bounceback

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TV Media Moves

New BMI director
Mark Pedowitz, President, Touchstone Television and Executive Vice President, ABC Entertainment Television Group, has been elected to a four-year term on the BMI Board of Directors. At the annual shareholders' meeting Cecil L. Walker, former President & CEO of Gannett Broadcasting, was reelected Chairman of the BMI Board, and Jack Sander, President of Media Operations for Belo Corporation was elected Vice-Chairman.


Below the Fold

Ad Business Report
Starcom signs with TNS
For digital audience measurement...

Media Markets & Money
I see England, I see France
Note a couple of developments from across the pond...

Washington Media Business Report
FCC says waivers are
Hoak-ey dokey for Hoak Media's 86.8M deal...

Shakers & Makers
Do you wanna talk slow?
Four transactions for four stations...


Stations for Sale

South Georgia
AM-FM-LPTV Combo
Includes 25kw FM
Zoph Potts @ (252) 940-1680
[email protected]


More News Headlines

CNBC details re-launch of CNBC.com
CNBC announced new hires and appointments in preparation for the December 4th relaunch of cnbc.com. "On December 4th, cnbc.com will change the landscape of digital business news," said Mark Hoffman, CNBC President. "We've recruited all-stars from across the industry to create a 'game-changing' site that perfectly complements our worldwide television network while offering a breadth and depth of business news coverage that simply doesn't exist on the web today."
| Who joined cnbc.com |

Garage sale at Journal Communications
Journal Communications has sold the former maintenance facility for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to a local real estate developer, Daniel Druml. The company isn't saying how much it got for the garage, but we are talking about a big garage! Druml plans to build a new complex to be known as Haymarket Square on the downtown Milwaukee site. It is expected to house a 45,000 to 65,000 square foot retail or grocery store, with four stories of office space totaling 88,000 square feet. And there will be another development of either apartments or condos and more retail space. In all, the project will cover an entire city block.




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TVBR Radar 2006
Television News you won't read any where else. TVBR--First, Accurate, and Independently Owned.

Still no accreditation for PPM
Wednesday's meeting, 11/15/06, of the super-secretive Media Ratings Council (MRC) still left Arbitron's Portable People Meter without MRC accreditation. Arbitron says PPM still has to answer MRC concerns in two areas, but doesn't say what they are.

RBR note: The entire statement by Arbitron and what you need to know is in this issue in our Ad Business Report section.
11/17/06 RBR #225

A stocking-stuffer's view
of Clear Channel Television
There's a little something for everyone in the grab bag that is the Clear Channel Television Group, now on the market just in time for the 2006 gift-giving season. Are you interested in market size? It runs from #5 to #202 with few significant gaps. Are you looking for a specific network affiliation? There are seven allied with Fox, seven with NBC, seven with CW, six with ABC, six with CBS, four with MyNetworkTV and two with Telemundo. Do you hate networks? There are three independents.

TVBR note: For anyone interested we have the complete list and details.
11/17/06 TVBR #225

What's for sale in
Radio at Clear Channel
Look at the shopping list RBR has done the work for the Radio Business. Key is finding the right player that wants these stations in these markets.
11/17/06 RBR #225

Advertisers missing the mark
with boomer audience

Baby Boomers are frustrated that television and advertisers place too much emphasis on younger audiences and are missing the chance to connect with Boomers in their peak earning and spending years, according to the findings in TV Land's New Generation Gap Study. The study, which included input from more than 4,000 respondents nationwide, was commissioned to deepen the networks' understanding of Boomers and was conducted by San Francisco-based Age Wave and Harris Interactive. Boomers expressed outright annoyance that television and advertisers

TVBR observation: Well if you want the facts then read this report in TVBR.
11/16/06 TVBR #224

2006 political pegged at 2.1B
And that's just the total for Television. Analysts from Bear Stearns and TNS Media Intelligence said the 2.1B total amounted to a near doubling of political spending compared to the last midterm in 2002. And that's just election cash. Another 344M was dropped into issue ads.

TVBR observation: It will be incumbent on Television and radio to make itself better known to the people who make political buys before the 2008 season kicks into gear, which this process is already begun. Said it before and will say it again, hire a Political Sales Manager one who understands this process.
11/15/06 TVBR #223

Gannett jumps in to
heat up bidding for Tribune
It seems that once the initial bids from private equity firms came in on the soft side, other suitors decided to take a fresh look at Tribune Company. So while the company is busy soliciting bids for the pieces, new bidders are emerging for the entire thing. The latest rumor, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, has Gannett Company in line. Also, Powered by political spending, broadcasting revenues shot up 28.1% in October for Gannett to 109.5 million. That includes Captivate, the in-elevator video service. For broadcast TV alone, the October gain was 27.4%, with national up 58.4% and local up 9.1%. With the election now over, things are cooling off, but only a bit.

TVBR observation: Gannett is and has been an active acquirer of good TV assets. However, it likes big four affiliates with strong news ratings, so we can't imagine it keeping a bunch of standalone CW affiliates. Rather it might hold onto the handful of Fox and ABC affiliates (and their CW or MyNet duops) in markets where there is no crossownership problem with its vast group of newspapers and sell off the CW standalones, with in-market companies the most likely buyers. Much as Gannett might want to hold onto WPIX-TV New York, KTLA-TV Los Angeles and WGN-TV New York, if no crossownership relief is possible it will likely prefer to hold onto the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and New York/Long Island Newsday. It is, after all, the world's largest newspaper company. We also don't think Gannett wants to be a sports team owner, so it would probably start taking bids for the Chicago Cubs if it wins the bidding for Tribune.
11/14/06 TVBR #222

Will Tribune cross off
cross-ownership pairs?
With company assets being shopped around, it may become hard for Tribune Company to hang on to major paired television stations and newspapers in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Tribune's own Los Angeles Times says three big-sticker TV stations may go on the block.
11/13/06 TVBR #221


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