Media Stocks Hit By Market Drops

Stocks-Down-AIn the midst of the early stages of the upfront, TV-based media companies were hit hard in the worst day for the stock market in months.

CBS lost 5% in its stock price to land at $30.33 on Friday. Although the company has diversified in gaining from non-advertising business, analysts say CBS is more subject to the whims of TV advertising market conditions than other media companies.

Separately, one report said CBS started doing upfront deals with advertisers on Friday. Previously, the network had positioned itself to land in high-double-digit percentage program price increases. No word on whether CBS is writing any media business at these pricing levels. The day before, media executives say Fox and ABC started doing deals in the mid-single-digit to high-single-digit percentage gains.



Conversely, diversified media companies lost less in stock prices on Friday. Time Warner slipped 2% to $33.76; Walt Disney was down 2.9% to $44.40; News Corp. went 3.5% lower to $18.73; and Viacom sank 2.7% to stop at $51.38.

Cable-focused companies hung on better: Comcast Corp. lost 1% to close at $28.63. Time Warner Cable slipped 1.7% to $74.15.

Scripps Networks Interactive, home of Food Network and HGTV among others, gave back 2.5% to $53.41. Discovery Communications lost 2.9% to $48.64.

One media agency executive believes the economic upheaval could give TV advertisers pause during the upfront process -- not only paying high price hikes per CPMs, but in cutting back on media budget volume overall.

Smaller general media companies -- those with more print assets -- also fell sharply: Meredith Corp. went 4% down to $28.39; Gannett Co. dropped 5.6% to $12.33.

TV stations groups fared better, but were not immune on the day: Belo Corp. went 2.4% south to $5.64; Media General dropped 2.6% to $3.44; Nexstar Broadcasting lost 1.2% to $6.55; Gray Television gave back 3.6% to land at $1.34; and Fisher Communications fell 1.7% to $28.16.

Sinclair Broadcast Group came out better than most -- just giving back 0.5% to reach $8.10.

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