Commentary

TV Business This Springtime Comes In Roaring

Now that the February sweeps have been swept away--and with them, the Winter Olympics--we can get down to the always stiff business of television.

This is TV's starch madness. Springtime brings this on.

This equates to lawsuits against former employees, confusion over DVR-included ratings, possible media acquisitions, and, in the new-media age of gee-whiz technologies, none other than the launch of two plain-Jane broadcast networks.

CBS set the tone this week. First, it slapped a major lawsuit against its former employee Howard Stern and his now $720 million in compensation from Sirius. Next, CBS will ask for millions of dollars from cable operators as well, because cable should no longer be able to sell anything for free, including broadcast signals.

March will be the month when TV sellers will move closer to making key decisions for their respective upfront strategies. Should they offer advertiser packages based on live viewing; live viewing plus same day DVR viewing; or live plus seven days worth of DVR viewing? Perhaps they should sell another package: live less boring TV viewing.

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Media acquisitions will also be key this month. Will anyone want to jump in and pony-up the high price for one of the few growth companies in media--the Spanish-language network and media company, Univision Communications? No one has moved just yet. Is something lost in the translation?

New technologies are here to make our future lives easier--kind of what the automatic dishwasher did for housewives in the fifties. Certainly new DVRs, high-definition TVs, VOD services, sophisticated mobile technology, BlackBerrys, and video iPods, make our lives easier. But, in fact, this doesn't wash in the press so much.

What has grabbed the most headlines? Two new broadcast networks.

That's right. Not cable news stories, or Internet journalistic pieces--but broadcast networks, of all things. Les Moonves, chairman/CEO of CBS, said that on one recent night almost 75 percent of the audience was tuned to broadcast TV.

You think you know the month of March. Perhaps terrestrial radio will be the big news in April.

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