The group’s CEO, Steven Smith, says Journal’s appetite for acquisitions “has not dissipated at all” and it’s actively looking at stations other groups may have to sell to stay within the FCC’s new regulations.
Journal Bullish On Buying JSA Spinoffs
Journal Broadcast Group intends to take advantage of the FCC’s clamp down on JSAs by buying stations other groups shed, Steven Smith, CEO, said during today’s conference call discussing first-quarter financial results.
“We continue to be interested in broadcast acquisitions,” Smith said, particularly stations that other groups may have to sell to hew the line on the FCC’s new, tougher rules limiting JSAs.
“It’s a bit of a jumbled situation,” regarding what station groups will do to comply with those new rules, Smith said: “There are a number of folks working through getting recent purchases approved. Our appetite has not dissipated at all.”
Most recently, however, Journal has been a seller. Early this year, it closed on the sale of two Palm Springs stations to OTA, a speculator hoping to cash in on the FCC’s spectrum auction next year.
Smith said that while Journal “stands with the industry” in believing that instead of imposing rules limiting JSAs, the FCC should instead review “ownership rules that are archaic” with an eye toward reworking them.
Noting that while Journal has a low debt-to-cash flow leverage ratio of 2.11 times, and could use cash on hand for share repurchases, Smith said buying stations is a higher priority.
“While we do discuss [share repurchases] with the board, the focus has been on finding some new stations to buy,” he said.