No action on TV station auctions


NEW YORK -- TV station auctions may be the latest victims of the global debt market crunch.

Bear Stearns analyst Victor Miller said in a report Friday that the sales process for Nexstar Broadcasting and several stations owned by Lin TV seems to have been delayed amid financing difficulties for private equity firms.

"Final bids for Lin TV and Nexstar were due next Monday and mid-September respectively," he wrote. "And while these $1 billion-$2 billion-range deals are not relatively large compared with some better-known leveraged buyouts, we believe that leveraged deals without commitments currently can't be done." He also suggested that the delays could benefit the price tag these deals will fetch if the debt markets improve.

Overall, Miller estimates that there are 91 TV stations in 63 markets for sale right now, reaching 28% of U.S. TV households.

Among the sellers is also Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which recently said it will divest nine Fox TV stations. Miller said he believes that process is continuing.

"The sales process continues, and we've had a lot of interest in the stations," a News Corp. spokesman confirmed Friday.