Local Broadcasting Can Take a Financial Punch—but Stations are Hurting in This Pandemic

Political campaigns are on hiatus. Local car dealerships have little chance to lure anxiety-laden prospects into the showroom. So the TV news business—like other media—is getting smacked with advertising cancellations, after having planned for 2020 to be a revenue bonanza.

Trade publication Broadcasting & Cable reported Wednesday that ad sales are down 27%, according to a survey of executives.

The biggest impact to date is that a month ago Gray Television quickly withdrew its $8.5 billion takeover offer for Tegna (formerly Gannett’s broadcast division). Gray and Tegna are two of the five biggest local TV news chains. My guess is that big consolidation deals, demanding financing to be repaid with future earnings, are likely off the table for a while.

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