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Radio Posts Lowest Quarterly Deal Volume Since 2012

It was a quiet start to 2016 in terms of radio deal volumes.

It was a quiet start to 2016 in terms of radio deal volumes.

SNL Kagan has released its estimates of mergers and acquisitions in the first quarter, and it said the U.S. radio industry posted the smallest numbers since the first quarter of 2012 with a volume of $89.5 million.

The biggest radio deal of the quarter was the sale of noncommercial KUHA(FM) in Houston-Galveston, Texas, for $10 million. The next largest were a pair of $8 million transactions. One was the sale of noncommercial FM stations KPLI, KPLU and KVIX, as well as seven translators and one translator construction permit in Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.; the other was a cash flow deal, with CBS Radio’s KFWB(FM) in Los Angeles being sold to Universal Media Access KFWB(AM) LLC.

SNL Kagan indicates that the biggest trend of the quarter was the jump in FM translator sales as a result of the FCC’s AM revitalization initiative. This initiative allows AM licensees to acquire FM translators to rebroadcast an AM station.

Since the AM station filing window opened on Jan. 29, SNL Kagan reports that 435 applications for modification of FM translators had been granted. FM translator sales in the first quarter, including construction permits, totaled 447, compared to 453 FM translators changing hands in all of 2015.

Though the first quarter of 2016 was one of the lowest in recent years for radio deal volumes, SNL Kagan reports there was interest in top-market CBS Radio stations after CBS Corp. announced a possible sale or spinoff.

Total U.S. broadcast station M&A volume, both radio and TV, reached $4.7 billion in 2016’s first quarter, according to SNL Kagan, which is a group within S&P Global Marketing Intelligence.