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For CBS, More News is Good News

Analyst Brian Wieser sees a bright retrans future for CBS, based on his prediction that FCC policies will remain pro-broadcaster for the foreseeable future. That could, however, depend on CBS and other groups remaining pro-local news.

Wieser’s Pivotal Research Group initiated coverage on CBS last week with a “buy” rating—a prediction the stock will return at least 15% per year, based in part on the forecast that its retrans revenues will eventually be $1 billion a year.

The FCC still has an open retransmissionconsent docket, in response to cable and satellite complaints that the thumb is on the scale for broadcasters, given the must-carry retrans regime. But the commission, including the current one under Julius Genachowski, has not taken up calls to intervene through forced carriage during retrans impasses or mandatory arbitration.

Wieser says, given the value of local news, “we believe that policymakers would not allow local broadcasters to suffer the same fate newspapers are facing.” But he also has advice for broadcasters in general: “Networks and their affiliates must ensure that they are seen ... to be continually investing and re-investing in their news programming.”