EARNINGS CALL

Tribune Talking Ch. Sharing To Other Groups

CEO Peter Liguori tells analysts today that his company is discussing with Fox, Univision and Ion how best to approach the FCC’s spectrum auction.

Tribune Media is talking with Fox, Univision and Ion about how the networks and station groups can team up and capitalize on the upcoming FCC spectrum auction, Peter Liguori, CEO of Tribune, said during Thursday’s second-quarter earnings conference call.

One key option Liguori cited: channel sharing.

With the FCC’s revision earlier this year of rules on channel sharing, broadcasters who may have been ambivalent about participating in the auction are taking a closer look at it.

An important provision in the revised rules allows potential channel sharing partners who sign agreements prior to the auction to coordinate on the auction.

Tribune, Fox, Univision and Ion all own multiple stations in the larger markets where spectrum is forecast to fetch high prices.

While a number of channel sharing deals are reported to be in the works, Liguori’s statement marks the first time a major commercial broadcaster has disclosed more than a general interest in the auction.

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And while Liguori did not go into detail, he did say the station group was looking at ways to “monetize spectrum.”

“We’re very focused on the opportunities presented by the auction,” he said.

Surprisingly, unlike nearly every other earnings conference call during the current cycle, the auction topic was not raised during the question-and-answer period of the call.

Instead, analysts were more focused on Tribune’s ability to be part of so-called skinny bundles that MVPDs are developing in an effort to stanch increasing subscriber losses.

SNL/Kagan released a report Thursday morning showing that cable-telco-satellite video subscriber losses hit 625,000 during the first half of 2015, the biggest decline to date, according to SNL/Kagan.

In an effort to stem such cord-cutting, MVPDs, networks and OTT providers are developing slimmed down, less expensive programming bundles and cable networks are vying to be included.

“I have every expectation that [its WGN America cable network] will be part of” such skinny bundles, Liguori said, saying that the network is defying industry trends and “is on the rise.”


Comments (10)

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Linda Leavell says:

August 13, 2015 at 11:30 am

So Tribune Media team up other groups to share channels and in the larger markets where spectrum is forecast to fetch high prices? They loose such as Bounce TV, Grit, Buzzrtv, ect? Good Question.

    Dante Betteo says:

    August 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Also Hero’s and Icons, Cozy, Decades, I get all of those plus more in the Cincy / Dayton Ohio Markets.

    Siyabonga Africa says:

    August 13, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Supposingly here in Lafayette, La. we’re getting Cozi, Get, Grit, escape, decades, movies! and Laff, possibly buzzr and the new sci fi diginet by end of 2016. However KLFY owner’s marketing director says that they’ll know within two weeks (of August 5th) what their replacing the 5 stations that lost the Livewell Network in May. The owner’s of the other station says they’re not launching anything in the next year or two. However I called a few people and the diginet owners and they said something is in the pipe line in southern louisiana in the next two years….go figure

Don Thompson says:

August 13, 2015 at 11:39 am

How far away is this headline: CBS Demands Cut Of Affiliates’ FCC Auction Revenue | Please follow me on Twitter – @TedatACA

Siyabonga Africa says:

August 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Share the wealth is not a good thing when one of your diginets (at one time at 100% capacity in the tv markets) is being replaced by Decades, H&I, Movie’s, Grit. Tribune might wanna think THIS out. Matter of fact seems a lot of stations that were former affiliates of major networks are jumping on the WEIGEL bandwagon and launching all 4 of their diginets or whatever their dma doesn’t have.

    Linda Leavell says:

    August 13, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Good Question, Fox will loose Moves! and buzzr tv ?, Tribune will launch new primetime network in sometimes fall 2016?, Tribune might loose This Tv and replace Univision subchannel in some markets? Remeber This TV was WEIGEL fomer co-owned with MGM before Tribune take over 2 years ago.

    Keith ONeal says:

    August 13, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    For dantheflash2011: I liked ThisTV better when Weigel had it than now under Tribune. The Children’s shows under Weigel like Horseland, Liberty’s Kids, and others were very entertaining and way better than the E/I crap that Tribune is programming for that diginet.

Amneris Vargas says:

August 13, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Ted, an interesting comment. The skullduggery is already underway, as networks seek “quality minimums” in the form of Mbps requirements (based on ATSC 1.0). If unchecked, fewer network affiliated stations will participate in the auction, as it makes channel/bit sharing a lot more difficult. Those that do participate will set reserves so high that they are unlikely to be winning bidders. The nets will never come out and demand spectrum proceeds, as it’s illegal. But, Chairman Wheeler is getting jerked around by the nets already (and he doesn’t seem to be aware of it, as nets raise the price of tea in China and it is already effecting the upwards price of spectrum in the auction).

Matthew Castonguay says:

August 13, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Yeah, those dastardly nets…trying to maximize their opportunities. What do they think they are – businesses?

    Amneris Vargas says:

    August 13, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    am not a lunatic nor a troll. Spectrum license is somewhat sacrosanct to those with the privilege to hold it. I think there is a difference between business and ransom (and that’s why scarce public resources are regulated). It’s not just business…it’s regulated business.


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