Radio+Television Business Report
What pandemic slowdown?
After dipping to nearly $56 per share on March 18, as concerns surrounding the domestic spread of the COVID-19 virus reached fevered heights, Nexstar Media Group stock started its slow climb back to where it was in early Q1 2020.
While NXST is beginning 2021 roughly $20 per share below where it was on February 12, 2020, investors should hardly be upset. Tuesday afternoon trading saw shares trading in the mid-$108 range.
Now, with news that noted journalist Ashleigh Banfield is joining WGN America to helm a 10pm ET hour-long news and newsmakers show, following News Night, investors should have plenty to cheer about come Tuesday, Feb. 23.
That’s when Nexstar will release its Q4 and full-year 2020 results. The numbers will be distributed prior to the Opening Bell on Wall Street, and a 9am conference call will see C-Suite executives discuss the results.
With a new NBC affiliation agreement just inked and ownership of stations such as WSAV-3 in Savannah, Ga., where political dollars for two U.S. Senate runoff races to be decided today were high, Nexstar seemingly has nothing but positives to share.
That’s what Zacks Equity Research thinks. “Investors might want to bet on Nexstar, as earnings estimates for this company have been showing solid improvement lately,” it said in early December. “The stock has already gained solid short-term price momentum, and this trend might continue with its still improving earnings outlook.”
For Q4, the company is expected to earn $6.44 per share, which is a change of +172.88% from the year-ago reported number.
For the full year of 2020, the company is expected to earn $16.14 per share, representing a year-over-year change of +236.25%.
What’s Zacks’ bottom line? “Nexstar shares have added 28% over the past four weeks,” it said one month ago, when shares were $110.80. “[This suggests] that investors are betting on its impressive estimate revisions.”
In the San Francisco Bay Area, South Asians seeking programming devoted to Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan culture, news and music have had access to Ravi Kapur‘s Diya TV on the DT2 signal of KTSF-26, the multicultural broadcast station led by Jack Schwartz and owned by Lincoln Howell that just inked a fresh measurement deal with Nielsen.
Soon, local viewers will now have another way — and, perhaps, easier way — to view Diya TV.
Mediacom cable TV service subscribers in 12 DMAs across the U.S. presently lack access to at least one of their home market’s Big Four affiliates.
Why? Of course it’s another retransmission consent impasse, which has led Mediacom — by law — to drop such stations as WWL-4 in New Orleans, KARE-11 in Minneapolis and KPNX-12 in Phoenix from its respective market lineups.
The MVPD puts the blame on TEGNA, the stations’ owner. TEGNA feels otherwise.
“You may have noticed that certain TV channels are currently unavailable to you. Please know these channels have been blocked by their owner, TEGNA Inc.”
That’s how Mediacom is explaining the loss of all TEGNA-owned stations from its channel lineups in DMAs as disparate as Norfolk, Tucson, St. Louis and Des Moines.
In its own interpretation of events, Mediacom assured its customers that the decision to “blackout” the channels “was not made by Mediacom.”
It said, “Our contract with TEGNA expired on December 31, 2020, at 5pm Eastern. At that time, we were ordered by TEGNA to stop carrying their stations, despite the fact that we were offering to pay a significant increase over our previous contract. Under federal law, we can’t carry a station unless the owner grants us permission to do so.”
The last sentence is undisputed as fact. The rest of Mediacom’s statement was addressed by TEGNA in a statement appearing on the websites for its impacted stations, such as WQAD-8, the ABC affiliate serving the Quad Cities of Illinois and Indiana.
The TEGNA station explained, “WQAD is currently not available on Mediacom. That means Mediacom is taking away your access to your favorite ABC programming.”
With agreements in place with Dish, DirecTV and Comcast in the DMA that includes Bettendorf, Moline and Davenport, TEGNA said, “Unfortunately, Mediacom refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us, which is why our station is not currently available on Mediacom.”
Who is correct is likely of little consequence to the “hard working residents of rural Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia” — customers Mediacom said would need to absorb the costs of any price interest it cannot agree to in its quest to reach a retrans deal with TEGNA.
Mediacom, the nation’s fifth-largest MVPD, does not explain why the cost would need to be passed on to customers. Mediacom is privately owned by empresario Rocco Commisso, owner of Italian pro soccer team ACF Fiorentina and the MLS’s reborn New York Cosmos.
Mediacom’s 2019 operating income was $808 million.
According to the company’s annual fiscal report, Mediacom’s revenues were $2.031 billion for the year ended December 31, 2019.
Will a new deal come soon?
“Mediacom is continuing to work hard to achieve a viable and affordable solution; however, the decision to pull the stations from your channel lineup rests entirely with TEGNA,” it says in an online microsite for Mediacom customers.
Will WQAD ever be back on the Mediacom system?
“We hope so,” TEGNA says. “It is really up to Mediacom to decide. We are committed to reaching a fair deal. If Mediacom is willing to make the same commitment, then we are confident that we can get an agreement that restores our station to the Mediacom lineup.”
Beasley Media Group is officially observing its 60th anniversary.
In this new RBR+TVBR InFOCUS Podcast, presented by DOT.FM, CEO Caroline Beasley shares a little about the company’s legacy — and what will eventually culminate in a special anniversary day in December.
Why did company founder George Beasley invest in an AM radio station in Benson, N.C., and why in December 1961 did he desire to own a radio station?
What is Beasley’s place in history with the growth of FM radio, and HD Radio?
Caroline Beasley shares the answers and more!
Since 2018 he’s been the Senior Director of Finance at Hearst Television.
Now, he will serve as Hearst’s VP of Distribution.
Colorado Springs is known as the home of the Garden of the Gods.
Now, Christopher Gould is gaining the top leadership role for two Salem Media Group stations in the market devoted to the word of God, along with its Conservative Talk sibling.
Gould, who serves as Salem’s SVP of National Program Development/Ministry Relations, will be relocating to the Colorado market, where he will continue in his current role while adding day-to-day General Manager duties for Worship Music-focused KBIQ-FM 102.7, Christian Talk & Teaching KGFT-FM 100.7 and (KBIQ-FM), 100.7 (KGFT-FM), and conservative News/Talk KZNT-AM 1460 “The Answer,” simulcast on K266CK at 101.1 MHz.
He will also oversee the Colorado Springs division of Salem Surround.
“I am confident under Chris’ strong leadership we will see these stations grow in both influence and financial performance and that our service and support of our National Ministry partnerships will continue to thrive,” says Salem Broadcast Media President Dave Santrella.
Gould has been with Salem for nearly two decades, initially running Salem’s cluster of stations in Tampa before being promoted to VP of National Program Development in 2011. In 2018 Gould was promoted to SVP.
At Eastern Michigan University (EMU) in Ypsilanti, Mich., the Department of Athletics is relentlessly committed to providing great experiences for both fans and student-athletes while building champions in the classroom, in the community, and in competition.
When the university upgraded its football venue with a massive new scoreboard in 2019, it purchased four Z‑HD5000 HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to enhance fan engagement while meeting the challenge of shooting high-quality video on the stadium’s distinctive playing surface.
The centerpiece of the technology refresh at the 30,200-seat Rynearson Stadium is a new 53-foot high by 29-foot wide Daktronics LED video display screen. The second-largest video board in the NCAA Division I Mid-American Conference (MAC), the new scoreboard is more than three times larger than the venue’s previous, resolution-limited screen. The display overhaul was accompanied by control room and camera upgrades as EMU Athletics began producing in-venue football programming for the first time.
“With the old video board, we just took an analog signal from the broadcast feed, and cut in occasional footage from older cameras,” said Greg Steiner, Associate Athletic Director, Media Relations at EMU. “We needed to enhance the in-venue experience, as when fans come into the stadium and watch our video board, their expectations have been set by what they see on television. We strive to provide unique on-site opportunities that fans can’t get at home, while also delivering what they already expect to see from TV.”
Supplied by systems integrator AVI-SPL, three of the Hitachi cameras are deployed in fixed positions on tripods. The fourth Z-HD5000 is equipped with a Teradek wireless transmitter, enabling the camera operator to go into the stands and roam the venue.
Steiner notes that the Hitachi cameras do an exceptional job capturing games in EMU’s unusual football environment. “We’re one of only three FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools that don’t play on a green field, and the only grey field at the Division I level,” he explained. “Getting a good picture against it can be tough with other cameras. Grey can get washed out really fast if you don’t have high-quality cameras and the ability to dial in directly to the true colors. The Z-HD5000s handle it very well.”
The newly-acquired cameras are EMU’s second Z-HD5000 purchase, joining four units acquired in 2013 – and still going strong – that are dedicated to the university’s 8,000-seat Convocation Center. In addition to driving in-venue video board shows for the EMU Eagles’ basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics events in that arena, the earlier cameras have been used on more than 185 live broadcast productions for the ESPN+ streaming service as well as university events such as graduations.
Together, the new and earlier Hitachi cameras also provide valuable, hands-on video production experience for students in the school’s Communication, Media & Theater Arts (CMTA) department, as well as students enrolled in other programs but interested in sports production. “We have higher-end equipment in Athletics than they may use in their own courses,” said Steiner. “Working on our productions lets them earn internship credit while getting experience on broadcast-class equipment that they may eventually use professionally, and they get to put on their resume that they worked on productions for ESPN+. That helps them get work for the major networks once they graduate.”
EMU has been very satisfied with the visual quality provided by the Z-HD5000 cameras, as well as their durability in students’ hands. “You know what you’re going to get every time you turn them on – great clarity, accurate color reproduction, and the ability to dial them in from the control room exactly as you need,” praised Steiner. “To know that they are forgiving enough with students is also a big selling point. Some of our college counterparts use more prosumer-level equipment and it breaks down much faster, so their turnover of gear is much faster than ours.”
Beyond the technical benefits of the cameras, Steiner lauds the possibilities they have enabled for the school and its students. “I cannot say enough great things about the opportunity that working with Hitachi cameras has presented us as a university and as an athletic department,” he said. “Putting these cameras in students’ hands lets us deliver an opportunity for their personal development while creating a program that lets us showcase our student-athletes to our fans. Hitachi Kokusai has been a great partner throughout the process to deliver exactly what we needed in terms of video.”
— Brian Galante
A powerful advocate who “is deeply committed to resolving issues that disproportionately impact” African-American and multicultural communities across the U.S. — including access to broadband, AI and civil rights, and media diversity — has been selected to serve as VP of Policy at the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC).
Enhancements to Telestream‘s CaptionMaker authoring software and the Vantage Media Processing Platform have been brought to market.
They provide “all the production tools” required by major broadcast networks and content distributors who have standardized on the Interoperable Master Format file-based delivery format.
In particular, CaptionMaker and Vantage Timed Text Flip now support IMSC 1.1, the latest
version of the SMPTE standard for subtitling and captioning.
IMSC is of particular importance in the preparation of IMF packages, and Telestream says no other technology vendor offers workflow automation combined with the caption and subtitle processing capabilities offered in Vantage and CaptionMaker.
“Using CaptionMaker, users can author, edit, encode and repurpose video captions and subtitles,” it says.
Then, using Vantage, they can include these media files in automated workflows for file transformation as needed when creating primary and supplemental IMF packages.
“With CaptionMaker, users create video captions and subtitles for television, web and mobile delivery,” Telestream notes. “CaptionMaker simplifies the process of complying with government regulations, enabling greater access to broadcast content for television, online and mobile viewers. The latest release supports IMSC 1.1 and contains several other enhancements including improved caption and subtitle rendering that makes them crisper and easier to read.”
Also, Vantage Timed Text Flip provides full support for IMSC, including version 1.1. IMSC is
required for IMF packages. Users that need to deliver video content to TV or Internet can
use Vantage and Timed Text Flip to transcode captions and subtitles with their media within
a single, automated workflow. This type of automation can help a variety of organizations
meet government mandates in a file-based workflow.
In addition, Vantage IMF Producer automates the creation of IMF packages from Adobe
Premiere Pro. Using a Vantage panel within Adobe Premiere Pro provides direct access
and significant workflow efficiencies for editors. IMF Producer automates the creation of all
files required in an IMF package from a single output render of an Adobe Premiere Pro
timeline. As well as generating the primary package, editors can create additional
sequences, which become supplemental IMF packages that contain different versions of
audio, subtitles, edit points, Dolby Vision HDR metadata and more.
“As a file-based delivery format, IMF is gaining widespread support from the media industry, so the decision to focus our efforts on developing IMF production tools was straightforward,” says Scott Matics, Senior Director of Product Management at Telestream. “However, these are not just any old IMF productions tools – they reflect Telestream’s outstanding expertise in this area and a great depth of customer feedback.”
One day after announcing it has scored a new affiliation agreement with NBC, the TV station owner formerly known as Gannett has inked a multi-year renewal agreement with Nielsen.
The nation’s dominant audience measurement company has scored a fresh deal with TEGNA, owner of 64 TV stations in 51 markets.
Under the terms of the agreement, Nielsen will provide local television ratings service for 34 TEGNA local markets with all existing services renewed for these markets and/or extended including Nielsen Arianna, NLTV, Digital in TV Ratings (DTVR), Grabix, Rhiza and Nielsen Scarborough.
Nielsen’s Local TV measurement includes traditional cable, satellite and over-the-air (OTA) viewers, as well as viewers who access linear streams of broadcast content through virtual providers.
“The combination of Nielsen’s Local TV panels plus return path data empowers TEGNA’s customers to activate and measure local media buys with confidence,” Nielsen says.
Nielsen reports viewing across devices and provides direct persons measurement, inclusive of incremental out-of-home (OOH) audiences in select markets via Nielsen’s proprietary Portable People Meter (PPM).
“TEGNA is a leader in the local broadcast industry,” said Catherine Herkovic, EVP and Managing Director of Nielsen Local. “We are delighted to provide continued support to 34 TEGNA markets with measurement services. As part of our client commitment, we will work alongside TEGNA to ensure that each local station has the tools they need to deliver on their business objectives with access to valuable local audiences.”
Until recently, Liberty Mutual Insurance was a fan of spot cable, using regional efforts to help build its brand. Its “LiMu Emu” spots aimed to attract Millennial and Gen Z consumers, and gain awareness in an ultra-competitive category.
Now, it has turned not only to radio, but to Spot TV.
While it’s certainly exciting that a big user of Spot Cable has now appeared at Spot Radio, heating up the auto insurance category, the presence of a popular language-learning online platform in the top three advertisers by play count is perhaps the biggest takeaway of the latest Media Monitors Spot Ten Radio report.
For the week ending Jan. 3, 2021, Babbel ranks third by play count, behind Bank of America and State Farm.
It is thanks to 55,701 spot plays.
Meanwhile, Liberty Mutual Insurance is present with just shy of 37,500 spots — dwarfed by leader State Farm but ahead of GEICO.
The gecko, Progressive and Allstate are not present in the latest report.
SANTA CLARITA, CALIF. — Travel to the northwest of the greater Los Angeles area, via Interstate 15 or Pearblossom Highway, and you’ll officially reach the “High Desert” — home to dusty, and growing, communities including Victorville, Apple Valley and Hesperia.
This region, the Victor Valley, is officially ensconced within the vast Los Angeles DMA. But, “local” TV is hardly local, and it’s been decades since a broadcast signal covered the region. Newspapers are largely focused on San Bernardino, to the south or Southern California’s more populous communities.
One radio group decided to tackle the local news void, both on-air and online.
With the Black Lives Matter movement and its hyperfocus on the African American consumer, Urban One shares skyrocketed in the summer of 2020. While values have receded since that big surge, they are still nearly four times the average price for UONE seen before June 1.
However, there’s a slight problem with Urban One, and the Nasdaq stock market has sent the company a notice that it needs to remedy it. Otherwise, it could face delisting.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has joined a national assembly of experts and organizations working on unified action against the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s being called the COVID Collaborative, and NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith will serve on the collaborative’s National Advisory Council.
The COVID Collaborative is a non-partisan group of the nation’s leading experts in public health, education and the economy working together with associations representing state and local leaders and vulnerable communities to take unified action to defeat the pandemic and sustainably and safely reopen the country.
“Radio and TV broadcasters have devoted tremendous resources to keeping their audiences safe and informed throughout the pandemic,” Smith said. “Now, as vaccines roll out and the nation’s recovery begins, local broadcasters will play an important role in educating and engaging viewers and listeners. NAB looks forward to working with the Collaborative in leveraging broadcasters’ connections to local communities across America to inform the public and defeat the virus.”
COVID Collaborative co-founder and CEO John Bridgeland added, “Having the voice of the nation’s radio and television broadcasters could not come at a more critical time as our country works together to defeat COVID-19 and emerge better and stronger.”
Chaired by former governors Dirk Kempthorne (R-Idaho) and Deval Patrick (D-Mass.), the Collaborative recently announced a “Call to Action Compact” between a bipartisan group of governors calling for a common, comprehensive approach to defeating COVID-19, emphasizing the need for state and local leaders to engage with vulnerable communities to ensure that efforts to defeat the virus are both equitable and effective.
The NAB also recently shared research findings regarding local media’s critical role in educating the public about vaccine distribution. The organization will unveil a toolkit in early 2021 providing the resources, research and messaging local journalists need to effectively educate their diverse audiences.
Davina Sashkin now has something in common with Matthew H. McCormick and Dan A. Kirkpatrick.
That would be her job title at noted Washington, D.C.-area telecommunications, media, and technology law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth.
As Wall Street officially began the 2021 trading year, a company that heavily invested in broadcast television spectrum across the end of the 2010s completed the sale of three full-power TV stations and a low-power TV translator.
It marks the company’s exit from a trio of major markets.
It also heralds a turning point for a company that quietly installed a new CEO in late November, after an activist investor at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic asked the company’s board to oust its prior leader — Philip Falcone.
Some 2.2 million Asian Americans reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. A broadcast TV station led by GM Jack Schwartz has responded by offering news and information, along with entertainment programming, in over seven Asian languages on a station owned by Lincoln Howell.
Howell’s over-the-air channel offers Mandarin-language programming, and offers Ravi Kapur‘s Diya TV on its DT2 signal.
Now, Howell and Schwartz are committing to “a comprehensive suite of measurement services” enabling Lincoln Broadcasting Co. to better compete against all broadcast channels in one of the nation’s biggest markets.
On December 29, a provider of cable television services went on the attack, using the public — and the media — to curry favor in what appeared to be shaping up for the latest retransmission consent impasse of the season.
Verizon Fios started to notify its customers that they could lose some channels “in the coming days.” Those channels are owned by a Baltimore-based broadcast media company and include the ABC affiliate serving Boston.
The TV station owner declined comment, as negotiations continued.
Guess what? A new deal was reached before any “blackout” and another verbal battle impacting viewers was sparked.
If you watch NBC‘s affiliate in markets such as Buffalo and Portland, Ore., you’re in no danger of facing any sort of channel change. The same can be said for NBC affiliates serving the Tampa Bay region and Columbus, Ohio.
That’s because the Peacock parent is starting 2021 with two valuable new affiliation agreements — with some of broadcast TV’s biggest players.
Early Monday (1/4), Nexstar Media Group confirmed that it and its operating partners have come together to renew the existing NBC network affiliations for 33 DMAs across the U.S.
The agreement covers a total of 29 Nexstar O&Os and four stations Nexstar operates via Shared Service Agreements with other owners, in order to comply with the FCC’s current media ownership concentration rules.
The stations include former Media General, and Clear Channel Communications, NBC affiliate in Tampa, WFLA-8. Other stations include WCMH-4 in Columbus, Ohio; KXAN-36 in Austin; WOOD-8 in Grand Rapids; WAVY-10 in Norfolk; KSEE-24 in Fresno; and WBRE-28 in Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
“We are pleased to renew our affiliation with Nexstar Media Group to serve these 33 markets,” said Philip Martzolf, the president of NBC Affiliate Relations. “We have a strong partnership with Nexstar and look forward to our continued collaboration to bring NBC programming to millions of households across the country.”
Nexstar President/COO and CFO Tom Carter added that the company, the largest broadcast TV company in the U.S. by number of stations, is “delighted” to extend its partnership with NBC on a long-term basis.
The news came just two hours after TEGNA, the broadcast media company formerly known as Gannett, signed its own “comprehensive, multi-year deal” that renews station affiliation agreements for 20 DMAs.
The agreement includes renewals for WXIA-11 in Atlanta; KPNX-12 (and Flagstaff-based repeater KNAZ-2) in Phoenix; KING-5 in Seattle; KARE-11 in Minneapolis; KUSA-9 in Denver; WKYC-3 in Cleveland; KGW-8 in Portland, Ore.; WCNC-36 in Charlotte; KSDK-5 in St. Louis; WTHR-13 in Indianapolis; WTLV-12 in Jacksonville; WGRZ-2 in Buffalo; and affiliates serving Knoxville; Portland, Me.; Waco, Tex.; Boise, Idaho; Twin Falls, Idaho; Odessa-Midland, Tex.; Beaumont, Tex.; and Bangor, Me.
It’s a major agreement for Comcast and NBCUniversal: The 20 markets renewed cover 17% of the U.S. audience and nearly 21 million households, and TEGNA is the largest independent owner of NBC affiliates.
“We are proud of our longstanding partnership that serves our communities,” TEGNA President/CEO Dave Lougee said. “This new multi-year agreement allows our stations to continue providing consumers and advertisers with premium network content such as TODAY, Sunday Night Football and the Tokyo Olympic Games. We value our collaboration, which enables us to provide must-have national content alongside our award-winning local news, weather and sports.”