Station Owners, Lenders Criticize Ownership Rules At FCC Workshop
January 12, 2010 at 4:33 PM (PT)
The FCC Media Bureau held its media ownership workshop on financial and marketplace issues TODAY in WASHINGTON. The morning panel featured financial industry representatives and a TV station operator calling for the FCC to loosen the media ownership rules.
SUN TRUST BANK's JAMES COTTER noted that multiples for broadcast outlets have plummeted to zero to four times cash flow, and called for allowing further combinations of media to come up with a business model that will attract lenders. MARCI RYVICKER of WELLS FARGO said that the communication marketplace had changed and the rules have to change with it. She and ION MEDIA NETWORKS' BRANDON BURGESS stressed the need to relax the rules to encourage development of mobile TV and other digital media, and BURGESS noted that the government allows cable or satellite to control a market and one company to dominate Internet searches, but prevents cross-ownership.
The afternoon panel for smaller-market broadcasters included criticism by BLUEWATER BROADCASTING's RICK PETERS of performance royalties and proposed "localism" rules. PATRICK COMMUNICATIONS' SUSAN PATRICK added that while smaller-market broadcasters did not find themselves in as difficult a situation as major-market companies regarding debt, the recession has caused some problems meeting loan covenants despite not being as heavily leveraged.