Broadcast groups post bad Q2 news
No surprise in broadcast groups' second-quarter results. Clear Channel's pro forma revenues were off 1.5% to $2.2 billion, with a 13.3% drop in pretax earnings. Young Broadcasting had a 12% pro forma drop in revenue, to $100.2 million, and a 12% decline in operating cash flow, to $42.6 million. LIN Television saw a 6% drop in revenue, to $73 million, and a 16% drop in broadcast cash flow, to $35.7 million. Granite's revenues fell 19%, to $30.5 million, while broadcast cash flow plummeted 64%, to $4.7 million.
FCC Oks Tribune buy
The FCC last week allowed Tribune Television to purchase WTXX(TV) Waterbury, Conn., even though the deal violates restrictions on TV duopolies. Tribune already owns WTIC-TV there and operated WTXX through an LMA with current owner Counterpoint Communications. FCC rules permit duopolies only when eight separately owned stations remain in a market. Seven remain after the WTIC deal.
Tribune was given the go-ahead because WTXX is considered financially ailing. Also, the company pledged to add more public-affairs programming.
Dan Greenblatt, Warner Bros.' top sales executive, is retiring after 36 years. Most recently executive vice president of sales for Warner Bros. syndication divisions, Greenblatt oversaw sales of such first-run and off-net series as The Rosie O'Donnell Show
and Friends. He was considered the number-two executive behind Warner Bros. syndication chief Dick Robertson. At this point, it's unclear whether anyone will be appointed to take Greenblatt's spot.
Looking for deep pockets
Mike Armstrong spent time last week seeking backing to hold off Comcast Corp.'s hostile $58 billion bid for AT&T Broadband. The AT&T chairman went first to Los Angeles to meet with Walt Disney Chairman Michael Eisner, who has been looking for a move. Next stop was Redmond, Wash., where he was to meet with senior Microsoft executives, who have gotten little from the $5 billion they pumped into AT&T two years ago. AT&T would not comment.
ATG halves its work force
Michael Ovitz' troubled Artists Television Group last week laid off 18 of its 38 employees, and Ovitz is talking with Paramount and Sony about production deals. The former Disney exec and powerful agent reportedly lost more than $50 million with ATG, whose four prime time series launched last year failed. It's producing The Ellen Show
for CBS and Lost in the U.S.A.
for The WB this fall.
FCC seeks NextWave's wireless licenses
The Justice Department and FCC last week asked the Supreme Court to strip bankrupt NextWave Telecom of wireless licenses the company could not afford after winning them at a 1996 auction. A federal appeals court had sided with NextWave, arguing that the licenses should remain among its assets and invalidating an FCC decision to re-auction the $11 billion licenses seized.
Benedek Broadcasting President Jim Yaeger's name was misspelled throughout a story about small-market broadcasters in the Aug. 6 issue.