Ah, just a year ago, it was fair to say that every broadcast and cable
finance executive was gloating mightily about their connection to the Internet.
Radio executives boasted about dotcommies'heavy ad spending on their air. Cable
operators crowed over how their systems would be the conduit for Internet
traffic. TV station executives gloated about both.
There's a lot less swaggering today. In the midst of one of the biggest
economic booms in the history of this country, media companies are twisting and
turning on the kind of roller coaster expected only in a recession.
Major-market radio stations are looking at the "virtual" holes in their ad
schedules. Cable operators are fighting off attacks from telcos aggressively
deploying high-speed digital subscriber lines. And TV stations' datacasting
plans are faltering badly enough to drive their data partners in search of
alternate distribution, notably satellite.
Of course, not all the problems in media are dotcom-related. Even
without failing Internet advertisers, TV stations are hurting from a slump in
spending by national advertisers in their markets. More pain is seen for 2001.
Cable operators face new competitors and their own difficulties in executing on
the digital cable, Internet and telephone plans they promised investors.
The bottom line is that, while TV and radio players aren't imperiled
quite the way Internet flameouts are, their stocks have crashed almost as
badly. In this report, Broadcasting & Cable takes a look at the different
media sectors and explains what's going wrong, how bad the damage is and what's
ahead for the next year.