Station Sales Stay Sluggish - Broadcasting & Cable

Station Sales Stay Sluggish

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Citing uncertainty over Federal Communications Commission ownership rules, analyst BIA Financial Network said TV-station sales remain sluggish.

For the first half of 2004, 39 full-power TV stations sold for a total of $323 million, according to BIA. That is up from the 22 stations that sold for $242 million in the first six months of 2003, but sales remain at historic lows. In the 1990's, any given period of six months averaged anywhere from 75 to 100 full-power TV stations.

In 1999, for example, the total sales value in full powers sold was $14.1 billion. If 2004 remained at this pace, the total would be $646 million.

"Until the ownership rules are finally resolved, television station sales activity will continue to be weak," said Dr. Mark Fratrik, Vice President of BIA Financial Network.

The FCC's deregulatory reg rewrite would have allowed more multiple station purchases in more markets and station buys by newspaper owners in markets they had been excluded from. That rewrite was partially undone by Congress, then stayed and remanded by the courts.

By contrast, low power TV sales are booming. For the first six months, 75 LPTV stations were sold for a total $11 million vs. 38 for $4 million during the same period in 2003.

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