Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 24, Issue 237, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Thursday Morning December 6th, 2007
WGA Strike Central: Day 32
WGA issues analysis
of AMPTP offer

As day seven of renewed talks between WGA and AMPTP drag on this Thursday, WGA Chair/Negotiating Committee John Bowman sent an email to members on 12/4, addressing many of the rumors and misinformation out there regarding the strike:

December 4, 2007

Fellow Guild Members:

Rumors, half-truths, and misinformation about what is actually happening at the bargaining table fly across the internet, are posted on blogs, passed across picket lines like a game of telephone, and appear in stories and advertisements in the trade papers.

So, to clarify exactly where we are, we have prepared a report and analysis, which
| you can read in its entirety here |.

In the meantime, here's a brief summary:

The latest WGA proposal would cost the companies 151 million over three years. It is reasonable, serious, and easily affordable. For instance, it would cost Sony only 1.68 million per year. Paramount and CBS would each pay only 4.66 million per year. MGM would pay only 320,000 per year.

The AMPTP claims its proposal would give us 130 million over three years. Our analysis - and again, please visit the website to see for yourself - tells us their offer is worth only 32 million. But if you factor in the companies' regressive proposal on "promotional use" (streaming TV shows and feature films in their entirety for free) writers could potentially lose 100 million in income over the course of this contract.

So while we don't see how their proposal adds up to anywhere near 130 million, we greet their public willingness to make such an offer with real interest. If the AMPTP is serious about this figure, the WGA is confident we are closer to a deal than anyone has suggested, and we are hopeful that the companies will respond positively to our proposal, which is a serious, reasonable, and affordable attempt to bridge the gap between us.

More inside info from the strike
The latest from LA Weekly insider Nikki Finke: "I've been able to glean a little from Tuesday's resumed WGA-AMPTP talks. Both sides sounded very matter-of-fact about today's negotiations focusing on the writers' counter-offer...Tonight, a WGA source says a "small group" talked about the WGA's counter-offer which Bowman had characterized as "a serious, reasonable, and affordable attempt to bridge the gap between us." Noted the WGA source, 'Questions were exchanged. There was some haggling. This will continue tomorrow.' Said another WGA insider, 'Our negotiators have been played so often. But it's not bad. They're at least engaged.' And a third party familiar with the talks emailed me, 'The tone of 'haggle' is it. I'm encouraged today'."


TV News ®

Grill session more of a warm-up
Anybody expecting major fireworks from yesterday's FCC oversight hearing at the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet was in for a disappointment. However, differences of opinion were expressed and a solid divide between the two political parties was evident. In general, Democrats think, as expressed by Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA), that considering the proposed elimination of the cross-ownership ban in the top 20 markets on 12/18/07 is premature, and that it should follow further in-depth study and comment. Further, it should not be done until issues of localism and minority/female ownership are more thoroughly dealt with. Markey said diversity of ownership is the only way to promote diversity of viewpoint, and while praising Martin for avoiding blanket deregulatory moves, wants the brakes applied now. Republicans, on the other hand, said repeatedly that Martin's plan did not go far enough. The cross-ownership rule should go away, period, and Subcommittee Ranking Fred Upton (R-MI) said that radio rules should be eased to allow a 10-station cluster in markets with 60-74 stations and a 12-station cluster should be allowed where there are 75 or more stations.

Greg Walden (R-OR) just left the ranks of radio ownership as sale of this small-market Oregon radio group just closed. He pointed out that often the benefits of consolidation are most keenly felt in small markets where size enables levels of service taken for granted in larger markets, like local news staff. Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) foreshadowed the investigation of FCC procedure being initiated by Bart Stupak's (D-MI) Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, talking of sniping and short-circuited procedures, and noted that Republican and Democratic commissioners alike must promote an open and civil dialogue. He wondered if there was a lack of fairness and transparency. This topic figures to be on the agenda at some point in the near future.

Grill session: Commissioners speak
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (R) remains convinced that his plan to eliminate cross-ownership restrictions in the top 20 markets, with no further deregulatory proposals, is moderate and justified. But the two Democrats on the Commission see the waiver process as a road to cross-ownership in markets of all sizes. Martin admitted that the Third Circuit sent back the 6/2/03 deregulatory package of Michael Powell (supported by Martin and former Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy and opposed by Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein). The court opinion noted that the ban on cross-ownership was inappropriate but needed better justification, so he came up with a limited elimination of it and left all other deregulatory proposals of the Powell effort out of it completely. He took pains to include expert testimony and public input. Meanwhile, he has the Commission working on proposals to increase localism and minority/female/SDB ownership.

Michael Copps (D) and Jonathan Adelstein (D) believe that the proposal to eliminate out the top 20 cross-ownership restriction unfortunately include provisions for waivers to allow such combinations anywhere. The vagueness of the review process, coupled with his view of the FCC's track record on such things led to his belief that cross-owned clusters would be springing up everywhere to the detriment of diversity of viewpoint. They want localism and minority proceedings completed before moving on the any deregulatory actions. Robert McDowell argued that the proceeding has already been more than adequate to justify action, with ample opportunity for concerned people to provide input. He noted a Congressional mandate on the books predisposing the elimination of unnecessary regulation, and suggested that the explosion of new media has antiquated many broadcast rules. Deborah Taylor Tate (R) simply noted the controversial nature of the issue and said she was there to hear what members of Congress had to say.
| Commissioner testimony summaries here |


Grill session:
Questions and answers

Here's a selection of items of interest that came up under Congressional questioning of the five FCC Commissioners. * Martin said that drawing the cross-ownership line at market 20 may appear arbitrary, but in fact that seemed to be a natural line of demarcation between markets with 10 or more independent owners and those with less. * There was disagreement as to whether the waiver process for smaller markets was a high hurdle or a speed bump. Dems said the latter due to vague language, and Martin indicated a willingness to work with them to strengthen it. * Asked by Fred Upton (R-MI) why he wasn't deregulating further, Martin said cross-ownership rules have been dormant the longest and newspapers seem to have the greatest need, and court record and the preponderance of testimony against dereg indicated moving cautiously elsewhere. Upton thought allowing a bigger company into his small market would improve local news; Copps countered that what he's heard in his travels is that distant owners come into a market and eliminate or curtail local coverage. * Mike Doyle (D-PA) supported Copps claim that news is being dumbed down, citing lack of Pennsylvania coverage of Harrisburg FCC Forum, while Hugh Heffner comments on Anna Nicole Smith was highlighted in the same sources. * Joe Barton (R-TX) wants more attention paid to broadcast/print deregulation, and is perplexed about attempts to add regulation to cable. * Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) both demanded that minority ownership issue be dealt with before any further dereg is considered. Rush said he's been hearing the same line on the issue since 1988, and that little or nothing has happened other than more rhetoric. * John Dingell (D-MI) foreshadowed

Graham stays the course
Washington Post Company CEO Donald Graham doesn't do quarterly conference calls, so it is always interesting to hear him speak, as he did yesterday at the UBS Media Conference in New York. Graham again said short-term-focused investors shouldn't buy his stock, but he believes in the long-term value of all of the company's businesses - and that includes the media businesses. "We're absolutely committed to Detroit," Graham insisted when asked what the company was doing to turn around WDIV-TV (Ch. 4, NBC) in the Motor City, a market that Graham had earlier called challenging. And he defended his reluctance to sell assets, saying that the company's reputation for buying and holding is important when he goes out to acquire new businesses from the people who have built them. Graham acknowledged that TV had been disappointing in 2007, but he noted bright spots as well. He praised WPLG-TV (Ch. 10, ABC) Miami for becoming the market's news ratings leader, for all stations, in a market where it is unusual of late for any English-language station to hold that title. Graham also noted "absolutely unbelievable performance" by independent WJXT-TV (Ch. 4) Jacksonville, FL. With the big election year ahead, one questioner wanted to know whether new media outlets are going to be making big inroads into the political ad pie that has traditionally gone to TV. Graham said his TV managers had been talking with colleagues in early primary states and had seen no indication of any diversion of significant spending to new media. But Graham wouldn't mind getting some political bucks for his own new media outlets. He noted that washingtonpost.com, newsweek.com and Slate all have highly political audiences and will be going after the campaigns for advertising. However, he noted, "candidates only have so much money."


Gannett expects TV to be down 10%
That's the estimate for 2007 given by Gannett Broadcasting President Dave Lougee at the UBS Conference, which would put this year's broadcast revenues, including Captivate, at about 790 million bucks. In addition to the lack of political and Olympic revenues seen last year, Lougee noted that automotive has been sluggish all year, although it is pacing up in the mid single digits for Q4. Gannett CFO Gracia Martore gave the gathering the company's first guidance for 2008, but that did not include specific revenue projections. For the TV group (excluding Captivate), "costs are expected to be up low single digits as revenues will benefit from Olympic and political ad spending."

Scripps on course for split
"We're well along in executing the steps we need to undertake between here and life as two separate publicly traded companies," EW Scripps CFO Joseph NeCastro told the UBS Conference. "Last week we filed a request with the IRS for a private-letter ruling affirming the tax- free nature of the proposed transaction, and we're full-speed ahead preparing to file the Form 10 registration statement by the end of February. As it stands now, we're on track to complete the transaction, as anticipated, by the end of the second quarter of next year," he said of the previously announced plan to split Scripps into two companies - one led by its cable network and the other its TV and newspaper operations. Scripps also provided initial guidance on its outlook for 2008. Scripps Networks, the cable business, is projected to grow revenues 8-10% and expenses by a similar amount. For the TV station group, revenues, fueled by political advertising, are expected to jump 15-20%, with expenses up in the mid single digits. Newspaper revenues, though, are expected to be down in the low single digits, with expenses falling by a similar percentage.

Nielsen and DIGIMARC launch service
to ID copyright infringement

The Nielsen Company and Digimarc announced a new service-Nielsen Digital Media Manager-that will enable media companies, social networks, peer-to-peer services and user generated content sites to monitor and manage the distribution of media content across the Internet. Nielsen Digital Media Manager will use digital watermarking and fingerprinting to establish an industry-wide rules-based solution to copyright security and to assure copyright compliance. By providing a more reliable way to track content, the service will help clients realize the value of their digital content, promote the expansion of Internet-distributed media and facilitate a number of revenue streams, including ad-pairing, e-commerce, royalty reporting and others. Nielsen already uses digital watermarking to encode 95% of national television programming for its television ratings service, and the new service will focus initially on the online distribution of television content in the U.S. The companies expect these new solutions to be available in mid 2008.


Ad Business Report TM

Phil Cowdell comments
on scoring Dell account

Phil Cowdell, WPP's Global Media Director and International Ford Media Team Leader, commented about the news this week that Dell has selected WPP Group to create a new 1,000-person strong marketing agency that would handle 4.5 billion in Dell accounts over three years (1.5 per year), beating out a seven-month "review" shootout with IPG. Cowdell was very involved in the pitch: "We have really enjoyed working through the pitch process with the Dell team-it's been very stimulating and provocative. We are honored to be appointed and are excited about now transitioning from concept to reality. They are great partners and its going to be both groundbreaking, effective and fun." Cowdell also notes WPP's GroupM does indeed get the media portion as well: "All advertising, media, digital, CRM, etc. is included--one winner gets all and we will be launching a new agency brand within the WPP family for this. It will be a full service marketing services agency including analytics and consulting-type functions...not another version of a traditional ad agency."


Media Markets & Money TM
Close encounter in the east
Carlos Barba's CaribeVision has completed its 60M investment in television properties. Now in the portfolio on an official basis are WPXO new York, WFUN Miami, and in Puerto Rico, WJPX San Juan, WIRS Jayuya, WKPV Ponce and WJWN-TV Aguada. The combined group is said to reach 4M Hispanics.


Washington Business Report TM
Eight is not enough
Clear Channel EVP/Chief Legal Officer Andrew Levin told the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet that the decision to loosen local radio ownership caps in 1996 was an industry-saving maneuver, and now it's time to do it again. He'd like to see the cap upped to 12 stations in the largest markets. Two panelists representing companies with television interests, Sidney Bliss of Bliss Communications and Jerald N. Fritz of Allbritton Communications, called for loosening the cross-ownership restrictions. Fritz in particular noted that his company was forced to separate WJLA-TV and the Washington Star in Washington DC, and the company that bought the newspaper killed it off shortly thereafter -- to the detriment of local diversity. Their opinions were echoed by John Sturm of the Newspaper Association of America. Juan Gonzalez of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and E. Faye Williams of the National Congress of Black Women both decried the disgraceful levels of minority ownership. Gonzalez said one result was that almost all mainstream reporting on Hispanics was about crime or immigration, presenting a distorted view of that population to the general public. Williams protested Martin's pet desire for a la carte cable menu, saying that it would kill off niche cable programmers.

NABOB's Jim Winston, pictured, had three requests: (1) Reinstate minority tax credit. (2) Prevent FCC from further dereg until minority ownership initiatives adopted. (3) Investigate Arbitron's PPM, which appears to be seriously flawed. He said the PPM situation, and the harm he said it was doing to Hispanic and Black broadcasters, warranted a separate Congressional investigation. The problem centers around suddenly lower listener counts, causing advertisers to demand lower rates. He said advice to program to the results amounted to a suggestion to abandon Urban formats and was unacceptable.

Watchdog Andrew Jay Schwartzman of Media Access Project said that if all broadcasters were like Bliss or Allbritton there would be no need for this hearing. But there is absolutely no national sentiment to allow Clear Channel to acquire further stations. He noted that Clear Channel is even now laying off employees to increase sales staff, and admired its chutzpah for complaining about the pending XM merger, and uses it as an excuse to buy more stations, even while it has owned thousands of shares in XM. On cross-ownership, he noted that studies unequivocally show that such combinations lower overall news in a market. He also argued that allowing strategic partnerships between TV and newspaper was preferable to allowing co-ownership.


Entertainment Business Report TM
NBC lawyers up next month
NBC is turning to its long-running "Law & Order" franchise for primetime programming next month as the writers strike drags on. Wednesday will be L&O night. The Emmy Award-winning original "Law & Order" resumes with a two-hour season premiere event on Wednesday, January 2 (9-11 pm ET), and will continue on Wednesdays starting January 9 (10-11 pm ET). January 9th will also bring this season's network broadcast premiere of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (9-10 pm ET) in its return to NBC after airing in first run on sister cable net USA Network. Joining the "Law & Order" cast for the show's 18th season are Jeremy Sisto as Detective Cyrus Lupo and Linus Roache as Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter. Cutter reports to Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) who has been promoted to District Attorney, replacing Arthur Branch (Fred Thompson). "The last time Rene Balcer was showrunner of 'Law & Order' we won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. I am thrilled he is back," said Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of L&O. "Law & Order" is a Wolf Films production in association with Universal Media Studios. Dick Wolf is creator and executive producer; Rene Balcer, Fred Berner and Peter Jankowski are the executive producers. "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" is a Wolf Films production in association with Universal Media Studios. Wolf, Warren Leight, Peter Jankowski and Norberto Barba are executive producers.


Ratings & Research
"Tin Man" a hit for SciFi
The three-part original miniseries "Tin Man" aired this week on SciFi and the NBC Universal cable network is already celebrating. Nielsen numbers from night one on Sunday showed the program posting the highest ratings ever for SciFi. The wild re-imagining of L. Frank Baum's "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" claimed a Household rating of 4.2 and 3.93 million households. It delivered more than 6.3 million total viewers 2+, 3.8 million 25-54 and 3.4 million 18-49. Parts 2 and 3 aired Monday and Tuesday in primetime.

Football fans find the games no matter what
The NFL Network may be lacking in cable carriage, but it appears that die-hard football fans found a friend (or friendly bar) with satellite TV to watch the November 29th game in primetime. According to the weekly data crunch of Nielsen data by the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) to combine broadcast and cable/satellite ratings, the NFL Network telecast was the #19 show overall in the key 18-49 demo - and for subscription television second only to another NFL game, "Monday Night Football" on ESPN (#9), though both trailed "NBC Sunday Night Football" (#7). All in all, broadcast TV had 93 of the top 100 shows in the 18-49 demo, compared to seven for cable/satellite networks.
| See the Top 100 list |

Parents discussing Holiday shopping online
motivated by cost, safety

Nielsen Online reported an analysis of online conversations among parents about their kids' holiday wish lists reveals that cost and safety are top priorities. Cost consciousness emerged in nearly 20% of discussions, with parents expressing budget concerns and vowing to avoid excessive spending on gifts. 10% of discussions mentioned toy recalls, pushing many readers to seek out domestic products to "play it safe." Toys "R" Us was cited as a helpful resource in determining safe toys. Parents expressed their intentions to buy specific products in approximately 60% of discussions. Nintendo's Wii and DS stand out as this year's "it" gifts; the Wii is especially popular because it provides entertainment for the whole family. Some parents are hoping to buck this trend and have a "green" Christmas with no plastic or electronic toys; others discussed intentions to buy educational toys like books and art supplies rather than the latest gadgets.

Overstock.com was the fastest growing online retailer when ranked by online mentions and inbound links in November 2007 versus a year ago, increasing 112%. Dell and Macy's ranked No. 2 and 3, with 84 and 83% growth, respectively. Target was No. 1 advertiser in Retail Goods & Services industry with 639.1 million image-based impressions. Books, Music and Movies was the largest Retail Goods & Services industry segment with 712.8 million image-based impressions. Office Supplies was the fastest growing Retail Goods & Services industry segment, increasing 285% in image-based impressions week over week


Stock Talk
Stocks turn up
A private jobs report gave Wall Street traders hope that Friday's November employment report from the US Labor Department will also be positive. Stock prices rose on the good news, with the Dow Industrials up 196 points, or 1.5%, to 13,445.

TV stocks were mostly higher. Gray Television common rose 3.1% and Entravision 3%. The biggest moved, though, was to the down side, with Nexstar off 6%.


Stocks

Here's how stocks fared on Wednesday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change

Acme

ACME

3.09

-0.03

Lincoln Natl.

LNC

61.33

+0.95

Belo

BLC

16.52

+0.15

LIN TV

TVL

10.70

+0.07

CBS CI. B CBS

27.22

+0.52

McGraw-Hill

MHP

46.27

+0.98

CBS CI. A CBSa

27.18

+0.46

Media General

MEG

21.84

-0.18

Clear Channel

CCU

35.03

-0.15

Meredith

MDP

55.09

+1.09

Disney

DIS

32.75

+0.35

News Corp.

NWS

21.19

+0.09

Emmis

EMMS

4.24

-0.18

Nexstar

NXST

8.15

-0.52

Entravision

EVC

7.48

+0.22

Ion Media

ION

1.37

+0.02

Equity Media EMDA 2.40 unch

Saga Commun.

SGA

6.71

-0.16

Fisher

FSCI

38.84

-0.06

SBS

SBSA

1.73

+0.04

Gannett

GCI

35.73

-0.02

Scripps

SSP

43.86

+0.72

Gen. Electric

GE

36.71

+0.46

Sinclair

SBGI

9.58

-0.24

Google GOOG

698.51

+14.35

SWMX

SWMX

0.01

unch

Gray

GTN

7.76

+0.23

Time Warner

TWX

16.98

-0.04

Gray, C1. A

GTNa

8.02

-0.05

Tribune

TRB

29.69

+0.09

Hearst-Argyle

HTV

19.78

+0.41

Wash. Post

WPO

792.50

-7.50

Journal Comm.

JRN

8.83

+0.23

Young

YBTVA

1.00

-0.13


Bounceback

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Below the Fold

Media Markets & Money
Close encounter in the east
Carlos Barba's CaribeVision has completed its 60M investment...

Washington Business Report
Eight is not enough
Decision to loosen local radio ownership caps in '96 was an industry-saving maneuver, and now it's time to do it again...

Entertainment Business Report
NBC lawyers up next month
Turning to its long-running "L & O" franchise for primetime programming...

Ratings & Research
"Tin Man" a hit for SciFi
Cable network is already celebrating posting the highest ratings ever...

Fans find the games
No matter what Football finds fans...


Stations for Sale

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TV Media Moves

Boardroom addition
The McGraw-Hill Companies has named Sir Michael Rake to its Board of Directors. He is the Chairman of British Telecom and former Chairman of KPMG International.

Univision adds lobbyist
Univision Communications announced that Bert Gomez has been appointed Vice President, Government Relations. He will be based in Washington, DC, and will report to Cesar Conde, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer, Univision Communications. Gomez comes to Univision Communications Inc. after a 16-year career at the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, where he most recently served as Director of Federal Government Relations in Washington.



More News Headlines

More stations sign up
NAB announced that its television membership now stands at 1,170 stations, an all-time high. The previous record high membership level came in February 2001 at 1,166 stations (before a period of stress between the affiliates and the network O&O groups over NAB policy on ownership limits). "This is an important milestone for NAB and recognizes the increasing impact that Washington's public policymakers have on the business of broadcasting," said NAB President and CEO David Rehr.

Nielsen commits
to Excellence

The Nielsen Company today announced that it will provide an additional 2.5 million to the Council for Research Excellence (CRE), enabling this independent forum of Nielsen clients to conduct its own methodological research on video audience measurement into 2008. Nielsen created the CRE in 2005 via a dedicated 2.5 million Research and Development grant, and since then it has contributed a total of 7.5 million to address industry research priorities. In addition to the original funding and its 2008 commitment, Nielsen also extended its support for the CRE with 2.5 million for 2006.

YouTube gets 28% video streaming market share
comScore released its comScore Video Metrix report for September 2007, revealing that nearly 75% of U.S. Internet users watched a video online (including both streaming video and progressive downloads), averaging three hours of video per person during the month. Google Sites, which includes YouTube.com, topped the September rankings with both the most unique video viewers and most videos viewed. September saw Americans view more than 9 billion videos online, with Google Sites once again ranking as the top U.S. video property with 2.6 billion videos viewed (28.3% share of videos), 2.5 billion of which occurred at YouTube.com (27.6%). Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 387 million (4.2%), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 381 million (4.1%) and Viacom Digital with 304 million (3.3%). In total, nearly 136 million Americans, or approximately three in four U.S Internet users, viewed online video in September. Google Sites also captured the largest online video audience with 71.6 million unique viewers, followed by Fox Interactive Media with 41.2 million and Yahoo! Sites with 39.6 million.

BK launches "Real People, Real Success" campaign
Burger King has launched a marketing campaign highlighting its diversity and inclusion initiatives nationwide. The "Real People, Real Success" campaign shines the spotlight on BKC's diverse employees, suppliers and franchisees. The first ad from the campaign appeared during the National Council of La Raza's national conference in Miami (July 21-24), the premier event for Latinos, hosted by the largest Hispanic civil rights advocacy organization in the country. With an initial focus on print, the campaign consists of a series of real-life testimonials of Hispanic, African American and Asian franchisees and suppliers. One ad-a stylized black-and-white portrait-highlights a Cuban-American businessman who began as a BK restaurant employee and now owns almost 40 BKs. Another ad showcases an African American businesswoman who is one of BKC's largest suppliers. All the ads were designed to honor the diverse workforce and business partners who have made the BK system one of the largest quick-service restaurant franchises in the world. The initiative was developed for BK by its Diversity and Inclusion agency, República.


TVBR Radar 2007
Television News you won't read any where else. TVBR--First, Accurate, and Independently Owned.

WGA Strike Central, Day 31
WGA-AMPTP talks resume
As talks were still back on track, Patric Verrone, head of the WGA West called on producers earlier this week to break ranks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, who he said is allowing "hard-liners" to obstruct negotiations. CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves told the UBS Media Conference in New York that he was not expecting a quick resolution of the writers strike.
12/05/07 TVBR #236

Belo not in market for more newspapers; TV improving
Belo may be splitting into separate newspaper and TV companies, but don't worry about the FCC's crossownership rule coming into play. At the UBS conference in New York, current Belo CEO Robert Decherd assured analysts and investors that AH Belo Corp., which he will head, has no plans to buy any additional newspapers.

TVBR observation: Why, you may ask, does the TV side end up with all of the company debt? One of the UBS attendees also wanted to know. Decherd explained that it would have "cost us a fortune" to refinance the existing company debt, so it all stays with Belo Corporation, while the newspaper side is spun off into the new AH Belo Corporation. The spin-off mechanism also maintained the grandfathered status of the company's TV and daily newspaper crossownership in Dallas, since the shareholders on day one of the split will be identical to those of the day before.
12/05/07 TVBR #236

Clear Channel closing
won't come until 2008
While still awaiting regulatory approval for its private equity buyout, Clear Channel Communications announced plans to pay a regular quarterly dividend to its current shareholders. The buyout, but that closing will not come before the end of 2007. The company said it intends to exercise its right to extend the termination date for the buyout, which had been set for December12th. The new termination date will be June 12, 2008.

RBR observation: The shareholders have voted to approve the deal and the parties insist that the financing is holding firm, but what it holding up those regulatory approvals? It is hard to imagine that there is anything for the DOJ antitrust watchdogs to really consider, since the company is not growing through a merger, just changing owners. We didn't think there was any reason for anyone at the FCC to object, either, but then Commissioner Michael Copps voted "no" on the sale of the Clear Channel TV group to Providence Equity Partners - not that he bothered to cite any legal basis for his no vote, just a vague concern that the FCC hadn't looked into the implications of private equity investment in media. Copps seems to think that is something new. Wake up Commissioner, private equity funds have been investing in radio and TV for decades. So hold your breath for another 6 months.
12/05/07 RBR #236

WGA Strike Central, Day 30
Natixis Media & Entertainment looks at the WGA strike
Alan Gould, Media Analyst at Natixis Bleichroeder, released a report on the ongoing WGA strike. Nataxis hosted a conference call with Chuck Slocum, Associate Executive Director of the WGA and John Bowman, negotiating committee Chairman for the WGA. Their primary conclusion from the conference call and other contacts is that the strike is beginning to have an economic impact on the television business, will shortly begin impacting the film side, and, if not resolved, will impact their estimates for 2008.
12/04/07 TVBR #235

Spot TV bonanza forecast by Coen
With a big boost from political spending, not to mention the Olympics, Universal McCann Sr. VP and Director of Forecasting Bob Coen predicts that national spot TV sales will jump 10% in 2008 and that local spot will rise 4%. The Big Four networks are forecast to post a 5% gain and cable is expected to jump 6.1%. That makes television, both broadcast and cable, a pretty good place to be in 2008. Other than that, and of course the red-hot Internet (+16.5%), Coen isn't predicting much ad revenue growth for the rest of US media in 2008.

TVBR observation: Here's hoping that Coen doesn't have to revise his estimates sharply downward as he did in 2007 - especially since they aren't all that strong to begin with. Just a little more sputtering of the economy could have other media, such as radio, joining newspapers in having a down year. TV gets a breather in 2008, but absent the elections and Olympics, those forecast numbers wouldn't be impressive either. For a complete Analysis review this report in TVBR.
12/04/07 TVBR #235


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