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Q1 Earnings: LIN Media Net Revenues Up 18%

lin media logoLIN Media reported $166.2 million in net revenues for the first quarter of 2014, an 18% increase compared to the year-ago quarter.

Local revenues, which include net local advertising revenues, retransmission consent fee revenues and station website revenues, were up 9% for the quarter. Net national revenues, net political revenues and operating income were also up.

“Our results were driven by an increase in television advertising, higher pay-television subscriber fees and significant growth in digital revenues, which now comprise 15% of our net revenues and has its own reportable segment,” LIN Media president and CEO Vincent L. Sadusky said in a statement. “Our diverse group of assets helped us maximize revenues from the winter Olympics and the Super Bowl and achieve the high end of our first quarter revenue guidance. I am excited about the expansion of our digital portfolio with the addition of Federated Media and the future scale and synergy opportunities from the pending merger with Media General.”

Media General Cuts 45 Jobs

media general_304x200A month after announcing a $2.6 billion merger with Lin Media, Media General is cutting 45 corporate and shared services jobs.

In an email sent to staffers, obtained by TVSpy, CEO George Mahoney says the cuts are meant to decentralize operations and give greater control at the local level. “It’s important that we have a structure that allows us to focus increasingly at the local, station level, closer to the customer, so that we can be nimble and responsive to our communities,” Mahoney writes.

When the merger is complete, the new Media General will be the second largest station group in the nation with 74 stations in 46 markets, reaching 23% of U.S. TV households.

The affected employees have been notified, a Media General spokesperson tells us. “Many of those who are affected are stars and have been with us for many years,” Mahoney writes. “They have, and deserve, our deepest gratitude and appreciation for their hard work and long-standing commitment to Media General.”

Mahoney is among those leaving the company when the deal is completed. Media General chairman Stewart Bryan will stay on in that capacity, while LIN CEO Vincent Sadusky will be the CEO of the combined entity.

Mahoney’s note, after the jump…

Read more

Katherine Green Named SVP of News for Tribune

tribune_304Tribune Broadcasting has named Katherine Green senior vice president of news.

Green will be responsible for all news production and operations across Tribune’s 42 owned or operated stations. She reports to Tribune’s president of broadcast media, Larry Wert.

“Katherine is a visionary leader whose background in local broadcasting and news programming will bring value to our station’s broadcast and digital newsrooms,” Wert said in a statement.

Before coming to Tribune, Green worked for CNN Worldwide where she last worked as SVP and managing editor of HLN.

Green has also worked as VP and news director for WTTG in Washington, DC, and WBAL in Baltimore. She has also worked at WFLA in Tampa, WNBC and WABC in New York, WTVJ in Miami, and WTLV in Jacksonville, FL.

Valari Staab on Strengthening the NBC Owned Stations

valari staabIn an interview with TVNewsCheck, NBC Owned Television Stations president Valari Staab talks about the investment in local news that has gone on under her watch. Staab says stations like WTVJ in Miami, WMAQ in Chicago and WCAU in Philadelphia have seen success because “we have added people, we have upgraded facilities, we have added resources”:

There are two things that strengthened our newsrooms quickly. One was adding a midday newscast. It’s easy to look at a midday newscast and do the math and say that it loses money or that it breaks even so I don’t want to do it. What a midday newscast does is keep the newsroom going all day long. It keeps everybody gathering news all day long. To have a big gap between your morning news and your 5 o’clock news weakens your 5 o’clock news.

The second thing is investigative units. We have put really decent size investigative units into these stations and, aside from giving you original content that your competitors don’t have and that you absolutely need in today’s world, it also gets everybody in the newsroom focused again on enterprise journalism. So, having journalists in your newsroom that are constantly breaking stories gets the other reporters breaking stories and working beats. It helps create a culture of enterprise reporting.

Hearst and DISH Reach Retrans Agreement

hearst_dish_304Hearst Television has announced it has reached a retransmission agreement with DISH Network.

Hearst’s 29 stations were pulled from the satellite provider after the two couldn’t reach an agreement last night.

“We appreciate the support and patience of our viewers, advertisers and local communities served by our stations,” Hearst said in a statement. “We regret the inconvenience they’ve experienced over the past several hours. We are pleased the interruption was brief and that our stations have been restored on DISH Network systems.”

Hearst Stations Pulled from Dish Over Retrans

Hearst_DishHearst’s 29 stations are off DISH Network today after retrans negotiations between the two companies broke down last night around 10:00 p.m.

“It appears that DISH does not have a problem with the rates we are seeking,” read one of the many press releases about the dispute sent by Hearst stations. We must note that in every release we got from the individual stations, this quote was attributed to that station’s GM.

The release went on to say, “But the DISH negotiating team is seeking other terms that we don‟t have in our deals with any other cable or satellite distributor or telco, nor do we have them in our current deal with DISH. Frankly, we are scratching our heads as to why DISH would hold their own customers and our viewers hostage for terms that are radically off-market.”

“Hearst blacked out its channels to use viewers as bargaining chips as it makes unreasonable demands on Dish and its customers,” Dish EVP and chief commercial officer Dave Shull said in a statement as quoted by Multichannel News. “We offered to keep the channels on while we try to reach a deal, but Hearst refuses to put viewers first.”

You can see examples of the releases after the jump. Read more

Granite Broadcasting to Launch OTA Broadcast Service for Tablets

tablet tv_304Granite Broadcasting and Motive Television have teamed up to bring over the air TV to tablets.

The new venture, called Tablet Television, will launch as a beta test at Granite’s San Francisco Bay Area station KOFY this summer with a full launch planned in the fall.

According to the press release, “This first broadcast TV service for tablets will enable viewers to watch and record live broadcast content in high definition in every market in the U.S. and, in association with local broadcasting partners, will be able to provide on-demand packages. Additional features such as fully-integrated social television will be available to Internet connected viewers.”

Granite chairman Peter Markham said in a statement, “It is a broadcaster friendly offering that requires no capital investment and enhances local broadcaster’s business models by extending their brand and content, leveraging their existing digital distribution network, and creating new revenue opportunities.”

Hearst Stations Expand Political Coverage

hearst logoHearst Television has announced an expansion of its political coverage going into the 2014 election cycle. Under the “Commitment 2014″ banner, the 28 Hearst stations will give politics a minimum of 12 minutes in the 30 days leading up to the general election and some primaries.

“Audiences demand intelligent, in-depth coverage of politics and elections in their local communities, and broadcasters are investing in new ways to meet that demand, ” Hearst Television president Jordan Wertlieb said in a statement. “We want Hearst Television to be the most widely distributed provider of political news content in their markets, and we will generate content to the best available screen.”

The biennial pledge is a renewal of a policy Hearst first instituted in 2000, when the station group committed to five minutes of nightly airtime. In addition to renewing a partnership with PolitiFact, Hearst will also launch “In Their Own Words,” a feature allowing candidates to record video statements on issues that will be available online and on mobile devices.

Angela Betasso Joins Tribune as SVP of Sales

tribune broadcastingAngela Betasso has been named senior vice president of sales for Tribune Broadcasting. She will begin in her new role on March 31, reporting to Tribune Broadcasting president Larry Wert.

“Angela is a strategic thinker and a proven sales leader with revenue success across a variety of broadcast, video and digital platforms,” Wert said in a statement. “Her positive energy and drive will be a great addition to our leadership team and she will work closely with Tribune’s new Chief Revenue Officer, Keith Bowen, as Tribune Company continues to advance how we serve our audience.”

Betasso previously worked at Belo Corp (recently acquired by Gannett), where she has been the vice president of sales since 2011.

With Merger, Media General May Add Bargaining Power and Shed Jobs

LIN Media GWhen Media General announced its merger with LIN Media to create what it calls the “second largest pure-play broadcast business in the US,” the speculation machine started up in an attempt to figure out what the merger meant in the long term.

The new Media General will boast 74 network affiliated owned or operated stations.  The Wrap reports there’s bound to be some market overlap and inefficiencies, which as we all know can only lead to one thing: layoffs.

“They’re merging because they’re seeing some of their competitors in the pay TV arena that are getting a lot larger in terms of scale,” Dennis Wharton, Executive V.P. of Communications for the National Association of Broadcasters told TheWrap. “Broadcasters, I think, believe that they have to have scale to compete against providers who are not giving away their programming for free.”

This is particularly true after the recent announcement that Comcast and Time Warner Cable planned to merge.

However, Wharton played down the possibility of newsroom layoffs. “If there are, potentially there will be job losses in the back offices –  in the areas of finance, human resources and IT,” he said. Read more

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