Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 22, Issue 86, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Monday Morning May 2nd, 2005

TV News®

Wall Street welcomes
Clear Channel breakup

Clear Channel's stock price jumped 7% at Friday's opening bell on word that the company was spinning off all of its Entertainment unit, creating a separate stock for its Outdoor unit via a 10% IPO, paying a special three buck dividend later this year and raising its regular dividend by 50%. But after the initial excitement over the moves we reported in a special bulletin, the stock eased back and ended the day down slightly. Saying the restructuring "simplifies the investment story" at Clear Channel and is strategically and financially sound, Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Wienkes had simple advice for his clients: "Buy the stock. He sees the implied value of the company at 40 bucks a share. "Our sum of the parts analysis implies a theoretical 'floor' for the stock of 32 per share," said Jason Helfstein at CIBS World Markets, also saying he sees the value increasing over time to around 40. Gordon Hodge at Thomas Weisel Partners also calls it a positive move, but values the shares at 28-38. In his quarterly conference call, Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays said people in all divisions are excited about the restructuring which will create three public stocks for Wall Street to value separately. That excitement may not extend to CC Entertainment CEO Brian Becker who will not be staying around to run the spin-off. In the meantime, Clear Channel CFO Randall Mays will serve as interim CEO while the hunt begins for a new head at CC Entertainment. The only big damper on the excitement was a warning by Moody's Investors Service that it may downgrade Clear Channel's band ratings because of the restructuring. Since the rating is now the lowest level investment grade, any downgrade would move Clear Channel's 7.5 billion in debt to junk bond status. Here's what Moody's had to say.

TVBR observation: What went wrong? In the first place, Clear Channel overpaid for SFX Entertainment. It wasn't worth 4.4 billion in 2000, as quite a few people outside San Antonio said when the blockbuster transaction was announced. Oh well, not the first time that Bob Sillerman got the better of someone at the negotiating table. Beyond that, the supposed synergies never panned out. Clear Channel's radio stations didn't get a big boost from having a sister company handling the tours of the top music acts, but got plenty of bad PR whenever it looked like they were trying to keep those stars off of competing stations. And CC Entertainment got plenty of bad PR and some high-profile lawsuits for allegedly trying to drive other concert promoters out of business. Meanwhile, the big name acts saw deep pockets at Clear Channel and began demanding bigger paychecks for touring, which squeezed margins. All in all, Entertainment was a drag on Clear Channel's profits and no one ever came up with a way to fix the problem. Solution: set it free to sink or swim on its own. As we said a month ago, spinning off CC Entertainment is a "clean and efficient way to get rid of a bad investment in a lousy business." | See Moody's Investors Review |

Auto up in Q1 at Hearst-Argyle
Other groups may be complaining about softness in automotive, but Hearst-Argyle says auto ads were up 4.4% in Q1. What's Dave Barrett's secret? "The leaders in every market have n auto sales advantage," he told analysts in his quarterly conference call. And he noted that Hearst-Argyle focuses its sales efforts heavily on maximizing the auto sector. Out of 28 TV stations, Barrett said auto was up in Q1 at 19. Another positive, he noted, was the primetime ratings improvement for ABC, which makes up a big chunk of his station portfolio. Even so, Hearst-Argyle wasn't able to overcome the lack of political ads and ended the quarter with revenues down 2.7%. (See Conference Calls for details.)


Martin regime gets off to a peaceful start
The first FCC Open Meeting under the chairmanship of Kevin Martin was characterized by unanimity, efficiency, peacefulness and even a little playfulness. Think it'll stay that way for long? The action in the broadcasting realm concerned the interaction between over-the-air television and satellite distributors, specifically in Alaska and Hawaii, and in areas unserved by over-the-air digital television. Both items were calls for commentary prior to considering a rulemaking, and thus sparked no controversy. Other items out of the broadcast realm also failed to ignite any ideological sparks. That was left for Michael Copps, who - - noting the new seating arrangements at the front table in the absence of Michael Powell, said the good news was that Kevin Martin had moved to the left, closer to his own position, but that was counterbalanced by the move of his Democratic colleague Jonathan Adelstein to the far right. Adelstein, who took the chair recently vacated by Martin, retorted that it was a calculated move, since "good things happen to people who sit in this spot." He said he was going to stay there and be patient.

Is Grassley greener in the sunshine?
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has introduced the "Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2005." The effect of the bill would be to allow cameras and other recording devices into federal courtrooms at the discretion of a presiding judge. In the case of a panel of judges, the senior jurist would have say-so. This would include the Supreme Court. Taking the floor in the Senate, Grassley said, ""I believe that the First Amendment requires that court proceedings be open to the public, and by extension, the news media. The sun needs to shine in on the federal courts...There are many benefits and no substantial detrimental effects to allowing greater public access to the inner workings of our federal courts." Attempts to pass a similar bill were made in 2001 and 2003. This time around, Grassley has a ten-member bipartisan roster of co-sponsors, including George Allen (R-VA), Wayne Allard (R-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Larry Craig (R-ID), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Hill happy about self-policing efforts
Two prominent congressional Republicans took time to laud members of the communications community for their efforts to help parents to control the video diet of their children. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) heaped his praise on NCTA, saying, "I applaud the cable industry's announcement today of a public education program designed to empower parents. This voluntary education initiative is designed to provide parents with the tools they need to protect their children from objectionable programming. This is a positive development and I commend the industry's efforts to further educate parents." Sen. John McCain directed his applause to the new initiative from NBC/Universal. He said, "I am pleased that NBC has now come on board with the other networks and agreed to provide this valuable information, thereby providing parents with another tool to determine whether an NBC program is suitable for their family. I believe providing this information is part of a television broadcast licensee's obligation to serve the public interest."

TVBR observation: The basic instinct of a Republican congress is to NOT regulate if possible. The more broadcasters can do to show legislators that they are keeping their houses clean on their own, the better. So if you do something along these lines, don't keep it a secret - - make sure they find out about it in Washington.


Publishers Perspective
Network TV's Big Problem:
No Passion
Ever wonder why the network programming gurus dump programming as well as your affiliate compensation? No passion or respect for programming content, or a commitment to find that right time slot. Once there were only three networks, now there are six with beaucoup cable channels. In days the network fall line ups will be announced and - nothing new or what guru dumped what program. The words of passion spoken by Jonathan Prince, creator & executive producer of American Dreams (AD) at NAB Vegas just may get your blood pumped again because Prince sees something lacking in TV today - Passion with Commitment. Put these two ingredients together and you have a winner. View Prince's Remarks. AD has all you need in programming, content, presentation, advertising support and what many want from the networks - - family value with education: it's called GOOD TV. It's no secret on my level of passion for the show, and if this is in doubt just re-read these columns 04/05/05 TVBR #67 along with the history of AD's American Bandstand. Bet you didn't know how Bandstand got its Brand - pg 2- 04/05/05 TVBR #67 The biggie - The advertiser was Ford Motor Company. Remember or know their support for American Dreams? No? This is where your national spot is heading--product placement. NBC will keep American Dreams or pull the plug. I say - NBC pull the plug - because you don't have Prince's Passion or Commitment. You now have Sunday Night Football. ABC you did the best thing by not having Monday Night Football. It gives the opportunity to re-evaluate some of your programming to build passion and commitment to your lineups. ABC's affiliate board: Get on the phone to those decision-makers and tell them to pick up American Dreams. Remember history and let it repeat itself: American Bandstand (AB) is American Dreams and Dick Clark's AB was a key in building ABC 30 years ago. The first word of these programs and the network is "American." Get to know this program and what makes it tick - Get To Know The Cast.

Two quick reasons to have AD: If you were a teenager in the early 1960s, like I was, you looked forward to watching American Bandstand. Second, if you are too young to remember the 1960s, but are curious about the styles of dress, dialog, boy-girl infatuations, racial tension, religious conflicts over birth control, the "transistor radios" that everyone carried around, the round-screen black and white TVs, all those are very authentic in this TV series. It's a time machine. It's a great show.

See the Ford mini movie for product placement View It Here.
ABC Pick it Up - - Build from it - - because it is all American.


Conference Calls Q1 2005
Clear Channel by the numbers
If you want to know why Clear Channel Entertainment is being jettisoned from the company, you need look no further than the raw numbers for the most recent quarter. Despite its current difficulties, CC Radio is still generating more than a quarter billion of cash flow in a tough quarter. CC Entertainment is hardly generating any at all. | View the Numbers they don't lie |

Hearst-Argyle down 2.7%
That's not bad, considering that there's no election this year. To accentuate that point, Hearst-Argyle Television (and a pair of radio stations) included a notation that Q1 2003 revenues were 149.3 million, so Q1 2005 was well ahead of that non-election year at 162.3 million, though down 2.7% from 166.9 million last year. There was some political advertising in the quarter this year - - 700,000, compared to 10.1 million last year. The company also noted that network comp was down 2.1 million for the quarter. So, adjusted EBITDA declined 15% to 52.4 million.


Adbiz©

Zenith Media
looks at podcasting

Zenith Media's report, "Podcasting 101: The Future of Radio or The Latest 8-Track?," takes a look at the history, viability and advertising potential of podcasting.
Here are some important points from the POV paper:

Ad puts L.A. in Mexico
California billboards have relocated Los Angeles to south of the border, angering groups fighting illegal immigration. According to the L.A. Times the Clear Channel billboards, touting the virtues of Noticias 62, a Spanish-language newscast on Los Angeles' KRCA-TV, show two cable newscasters sitting in front of Los Angeles' downtown skyline, with "Los Angeles, CA" printed above. The "CA" however is crossed out, and "Mexico" is stamped alongside in bright red letters. Underneath are the Spanish words, "Tu ciudad. Tu equipo." -- Your city. "This is almost a poster-board for illegal immigration," Peter Amundson, a volunteer with the California Republican Assembly told the Times. | Controversy over the border |

VMS taps Media Monitors for spots
Media Monitors has signed an agreement with VMS to provide breaking radio commercials and airplay data in the top 30 US markets. Based in NYC, VMS is a leader in Integrated Media Intelligence solutions, tracking advertising and editorial content across all media. Media Monitors delivers its same-day radio broadcast data to major radio station groups as well as major newspapers, ad agencies, media investors and media research firms via its AirCheck.net online service.


Media Markets & MoneyTM
Scripps boosts dividend
The board of E.W. Scripps Company has authorized a boost in the company's quarterly dividend. Instead of 10 cents, the company will pay out 11 cents per share each quarter. The new dividend is payable June 10th to shareholders of record on May 31st.

Liberman buys its rep
Liberman Broadcasting has bought its national rep, Spanish Media Rep Team Inc. (SMRT), for a total of 5,086,000, comprised of 3,286,000 in cash and 1.8 million in a note. Don't look for any big changes to result. SMRT had been owned by Jose and Lenard Liberman, who are also the current owners of Liberman Broadcasting. Also noted from the latest SEC filing: CFO Steve Cramer resigned from Liberman, effective Friday (4/29). He had joined the company just last November (11/17/04 TVBR #225).

Close encounter in Sacramento
The 285M sale of Channel 13 KOVR-TV Sacramento from Sinclair to CBS is official. Acquisition of the CBS outlet turns an affiliate into an O&O, and the station will instantly become the better half of a pair of O&Os, joining UPN KMAX-TV in a local TV duopoly. Viacom/CBS says this is its 10th multiple-TV market.


Washington Beat
RTNDA goes to bat for shield law
The Radio-Television News Directors Association is pushing for a federal shield law, as has been proposed by bipartisan sponsors in both houses of Congress. Senators Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) are joined by Mike Pence (R-IN) and Rich Boucher (D-VA) in the House in putting forth the legislation. The legislators wrote, "The Free Flow of Information Act closely follows existing Department of Justice guidelines for issuing subpoenas to members of the news media and provides protection against compelled disclosure of confidential sources by making the guidelines mandatory. In doing so, this legislation strikes a balance between the public's need for information and the fair administration of justice." RTNDA President Barbara Cochran commented, "Protecting a reporter's right to confidential sources is essential to preserving the public's right to know and to hold government accountable for its actions. Without this protection, whistleblowers and others would be afraid to come forward to expose wrongdoing and to effect change. It would be devastating if reporters have to choose between going to jail and breaking a promise to a source." A House committee is expected to take up the measure 5/12/05.


TVBR Ratings
"Friends" moves up in syndi ratings
It's no longer "Must See TV" on NBC, but reruns of "Friends" are strong in syndication. The show moved up to #7 in Nielsen's syndicated ratings for the most recent week, edging ahead of a more recent network hit, "CSI," which is still airing in first run on CBS.

Here are the top 10 syndicated shows for the week of 4/11-17:
1. "Wheel of Fortune," KingWorld, 8.3 rating.
2. "Jeopardy," KingWorld, 7.1.
3. "Everybody Loves Raymond," KingWorld, 6.3.
4. "Oprah Winfrey Show," KingWorld, 6.2.
5. "Seinfeld," Sony Pictures, 5.6.
(tie) "Seinfeld" Weekend, Sony Pictures, 5.6.
7. "Friends," Warner Bros., 5.1.
8. "CSI," KingWorld, 5.0.
9. "Dr. Phil Show," KingWorld, 4.9.
10. "Entertainment Tonight," Paramount, 4.7.
(tie) "Judge Judy," Paramount, 4.7.
Source: Nielsen Media Research


Monday Morning Makers & Shakers

Transactions: 3/21/05-3/25/05
Ten deal. Twelve stations. Need we say more? It was slooooooooow. A standalone in a top 50 market can command a pretty hefty pricetag. This week, a couple of standalones in top 50 markets failed to push the total to the 20M level. IN short, Q1 2005 trading is going out with a whimper.

3/21/05-3/25/05

Total

Total Deals

10

AMs

6

FMs

6

TVs

0
Value
17.263M
| Complete Charts |
Radio Transactions of the Week
Dead heat between Phoenix and Monterey
| More...
|
TV Transactions of the Week
Still snoozin'


Stock Talk
Oil down, stocks up
It's become a frequent occurrence - - oil prices move one way and stock prices move the other. Thus, stock prices rose on Friday and oil fell. The Dow Industrials rose 122 points, or 1.2%, to 10,193.

Ditto for TV stocks. Interestingly, Clear Channel ended the day down 0.2% after surging at the opening bell on news that it was splitting the company and paying a special dividend. The day's best gainer was Nexstar, up 4.3%. Saga gained 3.6%.


Stocks

Here's how stocks fared on Friday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change

Acme

ACME

4.12

-0.03

McGraw-Hill

MHP

87.08

+0.95

Belo

BLC

23.43

+0.20

Media General

MEG

61.28

+0.03

Clear Channel

CCU

31.94

-0.06

Meredith

MDP

47.00

+0.34

Disney

DIS

26.40

+0.50

News Corp.

NWS

15.92

+0.04

Emmis

EMMS

15.43

+0.05

Nexstar

NXST

5.83

+0.24

Entravision

EVC

7.87

+0.09

NY Times

NYT

33.36

+0.52

Fisher

FSCI

48.04

-1.21

Paxson

PAX

0.77

-0.10

Gannett

GCI

77.00

+0.80

Saga Commun.

SGA

14.71

+0.51

Gen. Electric

GE

36.20

+0.53

Scripps

SSP

50.93

+0.33

Granite

GBTVK

0.20

-0.05

Sinclair

SBGI

7.66

+0.21

Gray

GTN

13.15

+0.19

Time Warner

TWX

16.81

-0.05

Gray, C1. A

GTNa

12.34

-0.04

Tribune

TRB

38.60

+1.12

Hearst-Argyle

HTV

25.10

+0.24

Univision

UVN

26.29

+0.03

Jeff-Pilot

JP

50.21

+2.14

Viacom, Cl. A

VIA

34.78

-0.22

Journal Comm.

JRN

15.40

+0.23

Viacom, Cl. B

VIAb

34.62

-0.14

Liberty Corp

LC

36.26

-0.36

Wash. Post

WPO

864.25

+6.05

LIN TV

TVL

15.59

+0.10

Young

YBTVA

7.52

+0.13


Bounceback

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Upped & Tapped

Journal Broadcast announces promotions
Journal Broadcast Group announced three execs were promoted to senior operations management positions and another also received additional responsibilities. Carl Gardner and Jim Prather were named EVPs/Television and Radio Operations; Steve Wexler has been promoted to SVP/Radio and Television Operations for the group. Ron Kurtis remains SVP/CFO while adding responsibilities designed to "enhance shared service functions and operations within the company." All will report directly to the President of Journal and CEO of Journal Broadcast Group, Doug Kiel. Journal owns a total of 38 radio stations and seven television stations in 11 states and operates an additional TV station under an LMA.

Viacom names
Mike Dolan CFO

Viacom has named former chairman-CEO of WPP Group's Young & Rubicam, Mike Dolan, as Chief Financial Officer, effective 5/11.


More News Headlines

RBR - Radio News

Less is More
taking its toll

Clear Channel had warned in February that its radio sales were pacing down 5.6% in Q2 (2/28/05 RBR #41) due to implementation of Less is More, but the final result was even worse. Radio revenues came in 7% below Q1 of 2004 at 773.6 million. In his conference call with analysts, CEO Mark Mays said the difference was that the earlier pacing number had not included barter, which was down sharply. Both Mays and CC Radio CEO John Hogan reiterated that they are committed to LIM for the long-haul - - that it is paying off in higher ratings, is putting upward pressure on rates and is the best thing in the long term for Clear Channel, its listeners and advertisers, and for the radio business. So, how's Q2 looking? This time Mark Mays gave two pacing figures. He said radio revenues are pacing down 4.3% not including barter and 5.5% when barter is included. Hogan says the part of LIM that focuses on convincing advertisers to use :30s and :15s instead of the traditional 60-second spots is also taking hold. Asked for specific categories, he said the use of :30s is widespread, but named automotive and telecommunications in particular. He noted that Verizon recently began running its first-ever :30s. Big box retailer Home Depot is also using :30s now, he said.

RBR observation: While CC Radio is still facing a negative number for Q2 anyway you look at it, the gap is narrowing a bit from Q1. What analysts wanted to know was where is the end of the tunnel? Mays and Hogan were unable to project when LIM would stop being a drag on revenues and CC Radio would again post year-over-year gains, but they insisted that nothing is going to deter them from their chosen path. While he noted that there have already been some modifications to LIM (such as letting advertisers buy first-in-pod :60s, not just :30s), Hogan said he wouldn't even cave in on LIM if he sees other groups posting big gains while CC Radio remains in negative territory. This is a long-term play to fix problems that were a long time in developing. Clear Channel certainly was one of the culprits in creating the clutter problem, but RBR gives Mays and Hogan credit for sticking to their guns, despite what's obviously going to be a few painful quarters.


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TVBR Radar 2005
Television News you won't read any where else. TVBR--First, Accurate, and Independently Owned.

Auto biz disappointing,
but LIN is fighting back
CEO Gary Chapman is optimistic about some of the initiatives his company has underway to boost revenues this year including deployment of its WAPA-America Hispanic cable network and growing Internet sales. The searchable classified ads are, of course, on the Internet, but are promoted on LIN's TV stations. The contracts with dealers are for a full year and the venture has already generated a million bucks in revenues, which is ahead of plan. TVBR observation: Times may be tough for car dealers, but they're still spending a ton on newspaper classifieds. Bravo to Chapman and company for figuring out a way to tap into that revenue stream. No doubt LIN will soon expand this to other markets and there will others making similar moves. Go to www.woodtvcars.com to see what all the fuss is about. 04/29/05 TVBR #85

Mel the salesman raises
the bar at Sirius
Projecting that Sirius will add 1.6 million subscribers this year, total to 2.7 million. Zen Master expects not just to make Sirius profitable, but to make it a very profitable. Research by Sirius, the biggest impediment is not the monthly subscription cost, but the cost of receivers. So, Sirius is launching a new 50-buck rebate program. RBR observation: Mel is a great salesman and it's always fun to hear him make his pitch, even if we remain skeptical of the long-term viability of the satellite pay radio business. It was interesting to note that Sirius has found that its ad-supported talk and sports programming (plus Howard Stern on the horizon) is increasingly driving its subscriber growth. No wonder they brought in a new CEO who knows how to drive ad sales! Sirius is also reporting a lower churn rate than XM a monthly rate of 1.3% for Q1, which it claims is its lowest churn rate ever. 04/29/05 RBR #85

Radio Marches forward 3%
Radio comps for March 2005 can be written in black ink, according to the latest figures from the RAB. A 3% gain in total business matched the gain in local a 5% uptick on the national side was insufficient to push the total figure any higher, an non-spot revenue was flat.
RBR observation: These numbers, while not eyecatching, are certainly in line with what we've been seeing since we got out from under the red-ink splatter of the dot-com bubble burst. What this means, while LIM doesn't seem to be causing a major revenue surge, neither does it seem to be punching a gaping hole into early 2005 results. 04/29/05 TVBR #85

Upfront predictions examined
In RBR/TVBR's May print issue examining the upfront process, we look a bit into predictions for 2005-2006's upfront. What about demand and potential CPM increases this time around? We excerpt a bit: It's a bit soft, as most are saying, due to an unimpressive scatter market. In fact, scatter pricing is down 5% overall vs. 2004-2005 upfront pricing. ZenithOptimedia Group predicted in its recent updated forecast that the 2005-06 network upfront will be "relatively soft." 04/29/05 TVBR #85

A legal-eagle eye view
of the Durbin amendment
RBR-TVBR lead Attorney Gregg P. Skall of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC for his thoughts "Making broadcasters provide LUC to candidates throughout the year and giving them preemptible status is a terrible idea. It is probably unconstitutional and is tantamount to requiring illegal campaign contributions by all broadcasters..." 04/29/05 TVBR #85

TVBR FIRST
Warning to broadcasters: Politicians into your wallet again
The Senate Rules Committee passed to the full body Senate Resolution 271, which is intended to rein in 527 groups, which were able to indulge in unbridled political ad spending sprees during the 2004 election. But an amendment tacked on at the last minute by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) would also make broadcasters provide even cheaper ads to political campaigns. The bill was sponsored by John McCain (R-AZ).
TVBR observation: There will never be an end to the efforts of politicians to get themselves free or discounted airtime - - we all as a rule are willing to go to bat for our own wallets. However, of all the avenues available to voters to get information about elections, issues and candidates, political ads are the rock-bottom worst. If a proposal involves improving reporting, increasing the number of debates, encouraging town hall meetings, and other vehicles to provide critical information to voters, we're ready to talk. But if the proposal is simply to plunder the inventory of broadcasters so we can find out that Candidate X has a photogenic family, likes flags and is running against Attila the Hun, then forget it. Now we need the NAB at full force and all State Broadcaster Associations to kick in. 04/28/05 TVBR #84


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