UBS Global Media Conference: Sinclair: Networks Need Our Retrans

CFO Amy Dismisses Talk of Broadcast Networks Negotiating Directly with Cable
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Sinclair Broadcast Group has been growing at a breakneck clip, and David Amy, executive vice president and CFO, put some numbers on just how big the station group has gotten.

With its acquisition of a half dozen Newport TV stations closing Dec. 3, Sinclair reaches 27.1% of U.S. households, Amy told the gathering at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. That's about the same as NBC's owned stations, and ahead of ABC's. Add up the TV households reached by Nexstar, LIN and Gray, said Amy, and that's around how many households Sinclair reaches.

Ever on the move, Sinclair announced it had agreed to acquire Rochester powerhouse WHAM for $54 million Dec. 3.

The increased breadth gives Sinclair significant clout in terms of retrans, noted Amy, and quells any concern about the major broadcast networks skipping the stations to go direct to cable. "It has become a very substantial revenue line for them," he said. "Our relationship has grown much more significant. I wouldn't call [networks going straight to cable] a risk."

Amy expects Sinclair's retrans revenue to double over the next three years.

Sinclair's EBITDA looks to be $402 million in 2012, said Amy, up from $269 million last year.

Amy says television -- local television -- remains a key factor in consumers' purchase decisions. "We are still crucial for a successful product," he said.