Sinclair Broadcast Group COO Steve Marks told securities analysts yesterday that there may be “some merit” to having the broadcast networks negotiate for retransmission consent fees on behalf of all of its affiliates. He also said Sinclair is opposed to the “cash-for-spectrum” scheme since it plans to use some of its digital spectrum to get into the mobile video business.
Sinclair Broadcast Group COO Steve Marks told securities analysts yesterday that there may be “some merit” to having the broadcast networks negotiate for retransmission consent fees on behalf of all of its affiliates.
“It is just a business issue that requires a lot of the affiliates to sit down with the networks and have a discussion about does it work and how does it work,” Marks said in the third-quarter conference call.
“We’re open to whatever gets us what we think we’re entitled to,” he said. “As an industry, we still don’t get anywhere near what we bring in terms of value to the cable and satellite industries.”
That each station group now has individual retrans agreements is no impediment to working with the network on a “long-term transaction,” Sinclair CEO David Smith added.
“It is just a question of all of us … figuring out what the economics of that looks like. It is not complicated as long as we’re all rational and reasonable about it.”
Marks joined the ranks of other broadcasters who are opposed to — or are at least wary of — the FCC cash-for-spectrum proposal, under which broadcasters would give up most of their spectrum for a share of the proceeds coming from the auctioning of the spectrum to wireless broadband providers.
“I don’t expect the broadcast industry to roll over and just say go ahead and take it after we [invested] … many billions of dollars … in it,” he said. “It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. But we’ll just have to let it evolve and see where it goes.”
Smith made clear that Sinclair plans to use some of its spectrum to enter the mobile video business.
“We have a really interesting longer-term opportunity to get our content — news, local sports, all different kinds of things — into people’s hands on a completely mobile and portable basis,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is, it is just a matter of time before television is available on Kindles and every other damn device out there.”
The cost of entering the mobile business is “essentially immaterial,” he added.
Asked for his thoughts on Comcast’s interest in acquiring all or part of NBCU, Smith made a pitch for relaxing the ban against duopolies in small markets.
“If Comcast wants to buy NBC, I’m happy for them,” he said. “It just troubles me that the government would say that’s acceptable, but yet a broadcaster can’t have a couple of TV stations in a marketplace or newspaper or TV in a marketplace….It doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. I’m for deregulation all across the board.
“Let us do what we have to do to compete and survive.”