Local Broadcasters Bullish at SNL Kagan Conference
Broadcasters' retrans over $1 billion this year, but the networks want stations to share
By Michael Malone -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/16/2010 1:35:43 PM
Retrans dominated much of the morning discussions. CBS Corp. Executive VP and CFO Joseph Ianniello discussed CBS's increasingly vigorous retransmission gameplan in his opening keynote at the Millennium Hotel, including pushing for half of affiliates' retrans earnings. Asked about bypassing the affiliates altogether and going straight to the MSOs, he said the network has no interest in cutting out its local partners. "We're not looking to shrink the ad pie," he said.
SNL Kagan research showed that CBS will tally around $100 million in retrans in 2010. Its 209% retrans increase from 2008 to 2009 was well above the industry average.
A later panel, "The Outlook For TV Station Revenues and Valuations," looked at the sometimes tricky nature of affiliates and networks working on extracting retrans cash together. Fisher Communications President/CEO Colleen Brown, for one, said working with the network on getting retrans from the local pay TV services was a nightmare. "We did experiment with it in a very small way," she said. "It was close to a disaster...it was a disaster. In reality, it doesn't work."
Patrick Communications Managing Partner Larry Patrick hosted that panel. The panelists felt the networks often made unfair demands on their affiliates. "There has to be recognition from the networks that they can't put the affiliates out of business," said Kepper, Tupper and Co. President John Tupper, a former Fox affiliates board chairman.
While one analyst in the crowd asked about a leveling off of rebound revenue heading into the second half of 2010, the TV Station panelists insisted the picture from their seat continued to be rosy.
All also agreed that mobile television was crucial to stations' long-term viability. "We have a real opportunity with the spectrum," said Titan Broadcast Management President Bert Ellis. "Broadcasters have got to get this right."
The subsequent panel, "Developing Stations' Digital and Mobile Revenue Streams," also cited the importance of mobile television. Early findings from a mobile TV test in Washington, said Fox Television Stations VP of Digital Media Ron Stitt, are "very encouraging."
Sprint mobile consumers are receiving on-the-go TV signals, for both broadcast and cable, on Samsung handsets.
"So far, so good," said Stitt. "It's looking really, really promising."
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