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Financing the Future of Radio: Pillsbury at the Radio Show

We tend to focus on regulatory and legislative issues here at CommLawCenter, as that is the common ground for many of our media clients.  However, the truth is that—just like our clients—we spend more time working on business issues than regulatory ones.  Whether it’s mergers and acquisitions informed by regulatory rules, program negotiations, or novel business arrangements like channel-sharing agreements, the transactions are driven by business needs, regulatory needs, or both.

One of the biggest drivers is financing.  The government may tell you how many stations you can own and where, but the availability of financing will determine whether a deal can go forward or a business plan can be implemented.

Financing in the broadcast sector is unique in that the government prohibits a lender or investor from taking a security interest in what is usually a broadcaster’s most valuable asset—its FCC license.  As a result, broadcast finance transactions, whether they involve debt or equity, can be complex and are critical to an enterprise’s ability to grow and adapt to changing circumstances.

That’s why, every year around this time, Pillsbury hosts a session on broadcast finance at the NAB Radio Show.  Each year, we talk to some of the leading figures in radio and in broadcast finance about operational and finance trends and developments that shine a light on where the industry is headed and how its leaders expect to get there.

This year’s session on September 30th in Atlanta is particularly special.  It marks our 25th year of holding the event at the Radio Show, and we are celebrating with our biggest presentation ever.  Titled Pillsbury’s Financing the Future of Radio, Davis Hebert of Wells Fargo will kick off the session with a highly visual slide presentation revealing economic trends affecting the economy and radio in particular, as well as statistics on the health and headwinds for radio.

That will lead us into our panel discussion, where Caroline Beasley of Beasley Broadcast Group, David Field of Entercom, Jeff Warshaw of Connoisseur Media, Anish Aswani of investment bank Moelis & Company, and U.S. Bank’s Garret Komjathy will provide insight on a variety of operational and finance issues.  Because this year’s roster of speakers is our largest ever, and is split between radio execs and those on the lending and investing side, we’ll get a chance to learn whether the two groups see eye to eye, or if lenders and investors are looking for something different before putting their money on the table.

This year’s session is particularly special for me, as I’ll be taking over the moderating duties from Pillsbury partner Lew Paper, who created the event and handled those duties with aplomb over the past 24 years.  I would like to thank Lew and the many individuals who helped put together this year’s session.  I’d also like to thank George Reed of Media Services Group, who is providing breakfast at the session, which is a great way to kick off the Radio Show.  George knows that talking about broadcast finance on an empty stomach is possible, but not nearly as much fun.

Pillsbury’s Financing the Future of Radio, Wednesday, September 30 at 8:30am in Marquis Ballroom Salon A at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta.

We hope to see you there.