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 Talking Ch. Sharing To Other Groups
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.
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.”