June 21, 2013
"We commend Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) for the introduction of S. 1193 the "Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2013" and especially appreciate that the bill takes the long-overdue step of establishing a level playing field that treats cable on the same basis as other covered entities. We look forward to working with Senator Toomey and other Members of the Senate to bring this legislation to the Senate floor." - NCTA statement
Selling the online video site Hulu to satellite broadcaster DirecTV or another pay-TV distributor would be a big mistake, said analyst and provocateur Rich Greenfield of BTIG. Owned by media giants News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp., Hulu has been fielding offers from suitors including DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Yahoo and the Chernin Group. Private equity firms Silver Lake Management and KKR & Co. have also placed bids.
Greenfield warns that it would be a mistake for the owners to focus solely on how much they can get for Hulu without considering who is buying and the long-term implications. DirecTV could use Hulu to build an online multi-channel distributor or a TV-everywhere app, which would create yet another platform that Hulu's owners would need to get their programming onto, Greenfield wrote in a note to clients. That, he noted, would give DirecTV just one more "bargaining chip" to lower the prices it pays for programming from those companies, said Greenfield. "It makes no sense to strengthen your distributors," he wrote.
Greenfield said it would be better if either News Corp. or Disney just acquired all of Hulu. Comcast is prohibited from owning any more of Hulu per conditions it agreed to in return for government approval of its purchase of a controlling stake in NBCUniversal. Since Disney and News Corp. are unlikely to sell to each other and buy out Comcast, Greenfield thinks a better strategic buyer would be private equity firms or an Internet company such as Yahoo and not an established TV distribution service. Los Angeles Times
Final bids are due Friday in the auction of Local TV LLC's 19 television stations, expected to fetch between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, potentially making it the biggest in a series of recent TV station deals. Expected bidders for some or all of the stations include Sinclair Broadcast Group, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Meredith Corp., and Tribune Co., among others, according to people familiar with the matter.
A unit of private-equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, Local TV owns stations affiliated with various broadcast networks in markets such as Denver, Cleveland and St. Louis. It operates two additional stations that are owned by Tribune. The company was formed in 2006 when Oak Hill bought nine stations from New York Times Co. In 2008 it acquired eight Fox affiliates from Fox network's owner, News Corp. News Corp. owns Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
The auction is concluding just a week after Gannett Co. agreed to acquire TV broadcaster Belo for $1.5 billion plus assumption of debt, the most recent in a string of TV station deals driven by rising fees that broadcasters get for allowing cable and satellite providers to retransmit their signals. Earlier this month, Media General agreed to merge with New Young Broadcasting to form a company controlling 30 TV stations, while Nexstar and Mission Broadcasting bought Communications Corp. of America and White Knight Broadcasting in a deal involving 19 stations in April. Oak Hill put Local TV LLC on the block this spring.
People familiar with the deal said Local TV is likely to be broken up into pieces, much like Newport Television LLC, the group of 22 stations in markets like San Antonio and Salt Lake City that private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners sold last June. In that deal, Nexstar got 12 of the stations; Sinclair got six and Cox got four, for a total value of $1 billion. Meredith was among the unsuccessful bidders, according to people familiar with the matter. It could take several days, and possibly even weeks, to work out which bidders get which stations, the people said. Wall Street Journal
It is time for the Federal Communications Commission to stop policing the airwaves, Fox said in a filing at the regulatory agency. "The steady advances in video technology, and corresponding shifts in consumer viewing habits, have eradicated any justification that may once have existed for subjecting broadcasters to less First Amendment protection than other media," Fox said. The filing is in response to the FCC's announcement in April that it is considering relaxing its policies when it comes to enforcing content regulations on broadcast television and radio. Specifically, the agency is pondering whether to shift the focus of its enforcement efforts to egregious cases as opposed to issuing fines for the occasional inadvertent fleeting expletive or flash of nudity.
Fox said the FCC's rules are "stuck in a bygone era" and are unfair to broadcasters because cable and online outlets do not face the same regulations. "The FCC should affirm that it has no right to deny broadcasters the same First Amendment protections enjoyed by every other medium of communication," Fox said. The only time the FCC should even consider weighing in on a content issue, Fox added, is "if the subject matter of the broadcast content constitutes the equivalent of a highly graphic and sustained verbal or visual shock treatment." CBS echoed Fox's arguments. In its comments, the network said the FCC shouldn't be worried that relaxing its enforcement will make "broadcast television some sort of red-light district."
But not everyone wants the FCC to step back from enforcement. The Parents Television Council ripped Fox for its comments and cited the network's animated sitcom "Family Guy" as a prime example of a show that goes too far. "The American people (those without armies of lobbyists) are concerned about the volume of indecent material on TV that is targeting their children and grandchildren. The FCC and Congress must not ignore their voices," said PTC President Tim Winter. Los Angeles Times
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