Local Broadcasters Bullish at SNL Kagan Conference

The mood was upbeat at SNL Kagan's TV and Radio Finance Summit in
Manhattan today, with local broadcasters clearly enjoying station
television's economic rebound. Kagan forecasted that 2010 broadcast
retransmission consent revenue would be $1.09 billion--well ahead of
2009's $762 million. The $1.36 billion forecasted for 2011 had them even
more optimistic.

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.

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."

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.

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

Sprint mobile consumers are receiving on-the-go
TV signals, for both broadcast and cable, on Samsung handsets.

far, so good," said Stitt. "It's looking really, really promising."

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.