Cable programmers: Possible M&A targets

Although cable industry merger and acquisition activity has been in a relative holding pattern, a group of venture capitalist firms believe that cable program networks could see an uptick in M&A activity. Speaking at last week's Advertising Week conference, Thomas H. Lee Partners managing director Richard Bressler argued that cable's advertising and affiliate-fee revenue could be attractive attributes for potential bidders. Bressler added that the more likely factor is a turnaround of the debt market. "The liquidity in the debt markets is incredibly deep," he said.

Bain Capital, while cautioning that the cable advertising market will never see a major boom again, expressed similar optimism. And Bain should know. With The Weather Channel in its pocket, Ian Loring, Bain Capital's managing director, said cable's skill in providing targeted advertising makes cable networks a viable medium. "For advertisers, it represents a targeted form of reaching your customers," Loring said. "And they [cable networks] have captured a lot of the share of viewers."

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