Nexstar's Retrans Take Rises, but How Much?

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It can be tricky figuring out the best number to pin to Nexstar Broadcasting Group's retransmission-consent haul from the second quarter of 2009, at least without talking to the executive who should know best.

According to a 10-Q filing at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nexstar's retransmission take increased 91.3%, to $6.4 million. But according to the company's press release on the second-quarter figures, the retrans pot for the quarter ending June 30 was actually $7.9 million, and only a 68% increase over the same quarter in 2008.

Turns out both the $6.4 million and the $7.9 million figures and percentage gains are correct. The first is an all-cash figure, the second is cash plus additional considerations.

According to the 10-Q, that $7.9 figure is $6.4 million in cash, plus another $1.6 million in ad commitments, which was a 68% increase over that same cash-plus-ads total in second-quarter 2008, which was $4.7 million ($3.4 million cash; $1.3 in ad commitments).

Nexstar even threw in another number associated with retransmission consent. In the deck of its release, it cited a 56% increase for retransmission fees “plus,” the plus being “e-media and management fee revenue,” which dragged down the average.

If only the retransmission cash is counted, as it is in the SEC filing: “Retransmission compensation was $6.4 million [$6.371 million to be precise] for the three months ended June 30, 2009, compared to $3.3 million for the same period in 2008, an increase of $3.1 million,” or that 91.3%.

Which is the figure to take to the bank? Said Tom Carter, Nexstar's CFO: “In my opinion, what investors are more interested in is the cash paid number not the cash paid plus ad spend,” he said.

That would be the $6.4 million figure, and 91.3% increase.

Whichever way you look at it, the boost came out of cable's pocket, a point Nexstar makes to the SEC: “The increase in retransmission compensation was primarily the result of agreements with various cable companies being renegotiated at higher rates in the fourth quarter of 2008.”