August 16, 2006

In Douglas Rushkoff’s book -“Get Back in The Box” he argues that once a company goes public it’s really not in the “widget making” business anymore- it enters into the shareholder appeasement business. It turns it’s focus AWAY from it’s core competency – and towards a completely OTHER kind of activity.

From Inside Radio today –

Emmis shareholder Noonday Asset Management is back for more – it wants a second Dutch auction.
The Farallon Capital subsidiary holds nearly 10% of Emmis’ stock and thought it might cash out from Jeff Smulyan’s sweetened buyout offer – but that never came. Now Noonday says in a 13D filing that it wants the board to consider mounting a second Dutch Auction – essentially letting the market dictate the terms of a share buyback (but still remaining public).
Here are the numbers for a possible Dutch
auction for Emmis.

Emmis did one of those last Summer and set the price at $19.25 a share after sellers indicated their preferred price and amount. But things have changed and last month Jeff Smulyan withdrew his go-private offer of $15.25 – and then watched the price of “EMMS” dribble down close to $11. Now Noonday goes to the board to force the issue. Actually – Merrill Lynch analyst Laraine Mancini says Smulyan might be open to another sweeping buyback. She says “a Dutch tender at today’s stock price is likely a good opportunity for management to buy shares at a depressed level.” She’s keeping a “buy” rating on Emmis – which was up in today’s trading.

Does this sound like “broadcasting”? Does it sound like Jeff Smulyan is focused on the product Emmis is IN BUSINESS to create?

No. He’s busy with shareholder appeasement.

Actually – it’s worse.

SHAREHOLDER implies a share HOLDER – an investor with a long term HOLDING. In the Emmis case above it’s about a big institutional investor looking for an exit OUT of the stock.

This is the huge point made by Mark Cuban that I referenced in my “Stock Buyback” post.

I know this activity isn’t limited to radio companies – but radio is the industry I’m employed in and the “everyone does it” rationale shouldn’t excuse it.


More TV to the inter-weby thing

August 16, 2006

from Reuters

CBS Corp. on Tuesday said it plans to air prime time television programs, including its top-rated CSI series and “Survivor” show, on the Internet for free.

The shows will include “limited commercial interruption” and be made available on its high speed Internet channel innertube the morning after it airs on the CBS broadcast network, the company said.

Not better than TiVo – cept it lets me catch up on Survivor at work.

During lunch . . . of course.

Satellite Smack-down

August 16, 2006

Roars of joy and glee are ringing out in terrestrial radio quarters nation-wide today as the Sat-casters finally get a long overdue reality check from the mainstream press.

The Wall Street Journal covers the SatCasting business (it’s behind a subscription wall) and it isn’t pretty. Basically – they’re bleeding cash, overpaying for content, inflating subscriber numbers, loosing subscribers, and not getting enough new ones. Looks like a sinking ship.

Yeah!!! Let’s CELEBRATE!!! Let’s bump commercial loads up again!

Let’s cut active music libraries down another 30%!

And let’s voice track even more major day-parts!  From out of town!!

Let’s centralize more programming! Yeah!!!

What . . . . ?

Isn’t that EXACTLY what our mind set was when there were NO competitive sources for audio entertainment?

Satellite radio’s greatest gift is to terrestrial radio. It helped wake up the industry that was running on AUTO-PILOT and screwing listeners in the process.

Here’s something you won’t hear radio people cheering about – EVERY single one of Sat Radio’s initial criticisms about terrestrial radio were true.

And the proof that WE know they were true is shown in how there isn’t a single one of those complaints that terrestrial radio hasn’t tried to improve.

I think it’s also safe to say that terrestrial radio has a bit of Sat-caster envy.

How else can you explain our current HD effort which seeks to litter the radio dial with dozens of totally canned – un-passionately “programmed” juke-boxes of Satellite like “music channels” in EVERY market?  The sat-casters put at LEAST 1 person PASSIONATE about the music in charge of each channel.

HD Radio isn’t the best thing to happen to radio since FM – Satellite Radio is.

It forced a lot of lazy people to up their game. Competition tends to do that.  Radio desperately needs competition.