Saturday, October 27, 2012

It has been a while since I have visited these pages, so I thought now as a good time to make an appearance and update you on the latest with J. M. Tillery & Associates, P. A. and media station trading in general.

With  the down economy, media trading appears to be holding steady, at least in a few rare instances. Most recently Randy Michaels formed Merlin Media which acquired three FM stations from Emmis, which included WKQX and WLUP Chicago and WRXP New York, flipping WKQX and WRXP to FM News. Merlin also acquired religious WKDN-FM 106.9 Camden New Jersey (Philadelphia) for $22.5 million from Family Stations, Inc. creating news-talk IQ 106.9.

As most of you already know, the New York station was a dismal failure as an all news outlet, unable to effectively compete with heritage stations WINS and WCBS. Two weeks ago it was announced WRXP is being sold to CBS, slated to become sports formatted WFAN-FM. ESPN has entered into a similar situation when it leased Emmis' WQHT, now WEPN-FM.

Even Harold Camping's Family Stations, Inc. is getting into the action, having sold its commercially licensed WFME-FM 94.7 Newark, New Jersey, the last remaining commercially licensed FM facility owned by FSI, to Cumulus Media for a reported $40 million plus a station trade from Cumulus.

In addition to WFME, WRXP and WQHT, Clear Channel Communications acquired Heritage WOR-AM 710 from Buckley Broadcasting for a reported $35 million to secure clearance in New York for its Premeiere Radio network programs, namely Rush Limbaugh and Coast to Coast AM, giving more direct competition against WABC-AM 770. The sale from Buckley included the WOR Radio Network. More recently things seem to be moving forward in New York where available commericial FM stations are very rare.

While on the surface this is "old" news, I am acknowledging that radio trading is still active among many companies in several select markets, and more sales, mergers and acquisitions are on the horizon.

I'll be back again soon.

Jeffrey M. 'Mark' Tillery, Senior Named Partner
J. M. Tillery & Associates, P. A.
Online: www.jmtillery.com

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Senate Votes to Move Health Deabte Forward

Since this is a blog about the current state of the media and, in general, media trading, radio and TV station values and future predicted trends, I don't get into politics on this blog. However, due to recent activity on Capitol Hill regarding the national health care plan, also known as the Obama Care Plan, I felt it necessary to bring you up to date on the current status. Below is the story from the Wall Street Journal. The story was written by Wall Street Journal reporter Greg Hitt. Welcome to socialist America.

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WASHINGTON—Democrats and independents closed ranks Saturday and voted to move forward with debate on landmark legislation that would overhaul the nation's health system and extend health insurance to 31 million Americans.

The 60-39 Saturday vote came after a handful of undecided senators—centrist Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas—signaled their readiness to begin action on the $848 billion package crafted by Democratic leaders.

The vote was a validation of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's strategy of building consensus first among party loyalists rather than reaching across the aisle to Republicans, a move that would have forced the Nevada Democrat to pare ambitions and push a more modest bill.
"They shouldn't be afraid to debate," said Sen. Reid, who was celebratory after the vote. "This is the United States Senate."

Republicans, who were threatening a filibuster to stall action, said the legislation would cost too much. "Move over, Bernie Madoff," said Sen. Christopher Bond (R., Mo.). "Tip your hat to a trillion-dollar scam."

In the final tally, all 58 Democrats, and the two independents allied with the party, joined together to move forward on the bill. The roll call was conducted with senators sitting at their desks, a rarely used show of decorum that underscored the significance of the vote. Thirty-nine Republicans were opposed. One Republican, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, didn't vote.
Sixty votes are needed in the 100-member Senate to end a filibuster. The vote set the stage for two to three weeks of debate in December and perhaps more in January, in a struggle that is sure to color the 2010 fight for control of Congress.

Mr. Reid said he took a call in the Senate cloakroom immediately after the vote from the widow of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who devoted much of his career to the cause of health care. "Ted would be happy," Mr. Reid said, adding he sees the "finish line" ahead for the bill.

The push in the Senate follows approval in the House Nov. 7 of companion legislation that would overhaul the health system.

Republicans, who are vowing to use every tactic available to slow action and frustrate the White House's top domestic priority, portrayed the vote as an endorsement of the legislation. It includes new taxes and cuts in Medicare payments to health-care providers, in addition to an expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor, and new government subsidies to help lower- and middle-income people buy insurance.

Republicans beseeched wavering moderate Democrats not to fall into line, hoping to derail the bill and force Mr. Reid to deal more directly with the minority party. "Today in the Senate, we don't need 40 Democrats to stand up for what's right. We need just one," said Sen. Mike Johanns (R., Neb.).

But they couldn't get it.

Beginning Friday, the final undecided Democrats starting coming off the fence. First was Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, who said he didn't want to deny the voters in his state a voice on the issue. "The Senate owes them a full and open debate," he said.

Then came Sen. Landrieu. The Louisiana Democrat said Saturday the bill crafted by Sen. Reid isn't perfect, citing a need for more aid to help small businesses purchase insurance, among other things. But she said her concerns didn't merit standing in the way of action. "I've decided that there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward, but much more work needs to be done," she said.

A few hours later, Sen. Lincoln of Arkansas took to the Senate floor. She also voiced concerns, noting she didn't favor the proposed government-run insurance plan "as it is written" in the bill. But Sen. Lincoln said she didn't intend to hold up debate, and complained Republicans – who are gunning for her defeat next year -- were simply trying to "revive their political party" by opposing the initiative.

"Although I don't agree with everything in his bill, I have concluded that I believe it is more important that we begin this debate to improve our nation's health-care system for all Americans, rather than simply drop the issue and walk away," she said. "That is not what people sent us here to do."

Of all the wavering senators, Sen. Lincoln was under the greatest pressure. She faces a tough re-election battle next year, and polls show the health legislation is not popular in her conservative state. Republican strategists swiftly blasted her Saturday for giving Democratic leaders the "60th vote" to take up the bill.

"Obviously, the pressure from the left wing of her party finally got to Blanche Lincoln," said Amber Wilkerson Marchand, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of Senate Republicans. She said "the people of Arkansas will have an opportunity to hold" Sen. Lincoln "accountable when they cast their ballots next November."
Though the economy is emerging again as a major issue for voters, Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress, as well as the White House, are heavily invested in enacting health legislation, intending to make good on a major Democratic promise from the 2008 campaign.

The outcome of debate in the Senate – where the push for health-overhaul legislation died in 1994 -- is the biggest uncertainty facing Democratic leaders and the White House. Not only do Republicans have big leverage to shape debate, but Democrats are not united on details, and difficult negotiations lie ahead on issues like the government-run insurance plan and aid to small businesses, among other things.

The legislation would create a national "exchange" where small businesses and individuals could purchase insurance. It would require most people to carry health insurance or face a penalty of up to $750 per person.

Under the bill, employers with more than 50 workers who don't offer insurance would be required to make a payment to the government to defray the taxpayers' cost of insuring the workers. Additionally, insurers would be barred from engaging in a range of practices – such as denying insurance because of pre-existing conditions -- that critics say have led to gaps in coverage across the country and created turmoil in family budgets. The bill would also create a government-run insurance plan, while giving states the option not to participate.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would reduce the deficit by $130 billion over the next decade, in part due to cuts in Medicare payments to health-care providers but also because of a range of new taxes. They include new fees on drug makers and medical-device makers, a tax on high-value insurance plans, and higher Medicare payroll taxes for families making more than $250,000 a year.

"Senators who support this bill have a lot of explaining to do," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). "Americans know that a vote to proceed on this bill is a vote for higher premiums, higher taxes, and massive cuts to Medicare. That's a pretty hard thing to justify supporting."

Write to Greg Hitt at greg.hitt@wsj.com

Friday, November 20, 2009

Senate Committee Passes Low Power FM Bill

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation voted in favor of the Local Community Radio Act of 2009, a bill that would allow for the expansion of Low Power FM stations by abolishing third-adjacent channel spacing requirements for full power FM outlets. The legislation has already made it through two key House committees and looks to pass out of the full House.
The Act was introduced by Congressional members Mike Doyle and Lee Terry, which would alter a law passed in 2000 limiting Low Power FM to rural parts of the country. These stations are non-commercial 100-watt radio service that reaches a radius of 5 to 7 miles.
The National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) has been an ongoing supporter of and advocate for LPFM. Approximately 25% of NFCB's 250 members are LPFM stations. NFCB believes there is a need for more communities to have their own LPFM. NFCB President/CEO Carol Pierson describes NFCB's involvement in LPFM as "consistent with our values of localism, diversity, and public service."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Emmis Radio Fiscal Q2 Revenues Down 26.5%

In a filing with the SEC Friday, Emmis Communications reported a 26.5% drop in revenues for its fiscal second quarter to $67.8 million from 92.7 million a year earlier. Station operating income (SOI) fell 50.1% from $27.1 million.

The company posted a net loss of $135.6 million ($3.67 per share), compared to net earnings of $1.2 million (3 cents) in the year-ago period. The loss reflects a $170.98 million impairment charge related to the value of its stations.

Emmis' local ad revenues declined 30.6% to $40.7 million from $58.6 million, while national totals fell 51% to $7.5 million from $15.3 million. In the filing, Emmis said net revenues "decreased principally as a result of a precipitous decline of advertising spending due to the global economic slowdown."

On a up note, the company said, "Local sales have been slightly more resilient than national sales," falling 29% in the first half of its fiscal year, while national was down about 49%.
Emmis also took a shot at Arbitron, saying its New York and Los Angeles stations are "trailing the performance" due to the company's "lack of scale" and that its stations "target demographics that suffer a disproportionate decline in ratings when measured by the PPM."

WARH (106.5 The Arch) Makes St. Louis Radio History

History took a turn in St. Louis Thursday with the release of PPM. Yes for the first time in 130+ Arbitron surveys, Variety Hits WARH-FM (106.5 The Arch) became the first station to knock longtime ratings leader News/Talk KMOX-FM out of the #1 slot for Persons 12+, as The Arch now holds that #1 position.

In the latest PPM ratings period, 106.5 The Arch leads the St. Louis radio market in Total Reach with 10.9 rating of Persons 12+. Cume not only remained at #1 with the new PPM system, but took a commanding lead over their competitors by 2.6 points in the overall Monday-Sunday 6am-Midnight time period.

The station's Cume experienced significant growth; WARH-FM reaches nearly a million listeners each week, or 40% of St. Louis' total listening audience.

The Arch PD Kevin Robinson noted, "We are honored to be the station to have broken KMOX's long-running and esteemed record as the number one radio station among Person 12+ in St. Louis. We're excited about our recent Arbitron survey results, and the entire staff is committed to do our best work possible in order to improve upon our success."

Robinson continues. "To put this achievement into perspective, the history of 130+ Arbitron surveys since a competitor overtook KMOX in the ratings is well over 42 years ago, when the Beatles were on the charts, the original Busch Stadium was just a few years old and the Gateway Arch still had that fresh, 'new Arch smell' to it!"

Local Community Radio Act Passes Subcommittee

The Local Community Radio Act of 2009 has passed out of a key House Subcommittee, clearing the way for the possibility of hundreds more Low Power FM (LPFM) stations. LPFMs are 100-watt non-commercial radio that can be broadcast at low cost to a small community area, possibly opening the door for schools, labor unions, churches and non-profit groups to operate.

Thursday's subcommittee vote represents a major victory for community radio advocates including Prometheus Radio Project, United Church of Christ and more.

"The bill still has a long way to go in the legislative process, but I am optimistic that by the end of the year the Local Community Radio Act will be signed into law," said lead co-sponsor of the bill Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA) with Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE).

Reprinted from Radio-Online.Com

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Univision Closes on WQXR./NY, Set for Signal Swap

Univision is set to takeover the frequency of Classical 6kw WQXR-FM (96.3)/New York Thursday night at 8pm concluding the previously anounced deal with the New York Times for $33.5 million. Concurrently, crosstown News/Talk WNYC-FM takes Univision's Tropical 600-watt WCAA-FM (105.9)'s equipment and license, and the right to the WQXR call letters from the Times Company for $11.5 million.

Univision Radio will transition WCAA-FM from 105.9 to 96.3 Thursday night providing the Spanish-language operator with expanded coverage of the New York Hispanic demographic. WNYC will operate WQXR on 105.9 FM and continue to serve its current audience as a listener-supported public station dedicated to classical music. (10-08-09)