Remaining broadcast TV networks could be targets for acquisitions

Comcast's ongoing bid to acquire NBC Universal and speculation over what the MSO will do with that broadcast property when the sale is complete--including perhaps pumping money into a financial sieve or even selling off the broadcast assets--has led to speculation that the remaining broadcast networks are also in play.

"They are failing business models whose brand value is meaningful mostly to strained local TV station affiliates, many of whom are also fighting to survive," wrote media watcher Diane Mermigas.

The signs of potential market movement are there, if you take denials as proof that something's going on. Disney has denied it is in advanced discussions to sell ABC and Viacom Executive Chairman Summer Redstone told shareholders at the company's annual meeting that he would "never, N-E-V-E-R sell Viacom or CBS." So far, Fox has been relatively quiet on the subject, so maybe it's not in play.

Broadcasters are seeing improved advertising returns and expecting big things from must-carry requirements that include retransmission fees from cable operators. They're also in the initial stages of mobile digital TV (mobile DTV) which, some believe, will expand their footprint and their reach to subscribers.

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