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US Watch

US Watch

The Apprentice President

With a new incumbent in the White House , Larry Gerbrandt asks whether a media-savvy President is good for US media .

Along with more than half of US voters , most US media companies are still trying to figure out what a Donald Trump presidency means for them . Given that the smart money was on at least four to eight more years of a Democrat heading up the executive branch , coming to terms with what the marriage of a Republican majority House and Senate to a maverick ( some say ‘ rogue ’) conservative president is a work in progress with more question marks than firm agenda items .

The most obvious fallout has been President Trump ’ s promise to dramatically cut and rollback regulations , especially those that cost jobs and hurt business . In theory , that should be a positive for the telecommunications industry in general , though it may mean higher prices for consumers and fatter profit margins for providers .
Historically , Republican administrations have been more lenient on mergers and industry consolidation so it is likely there may be more mergers of big media names , especially those with lots of content . Obvious candidates include Viacom and CBS , along with T-Mobile and Sprint . On the MVPD side , DISH and Cox could be both buyers or sellers . Disney and Comcast / NBCUniversal could be allowed to get larger . Apple , Google , Amazon and Netflix may be able to leverage looser regulations with corporate tax reforms and foreign cash repatriation to make some deals work .
Historically , inflation has been a positive for advertising growth , since ad budgets are often tied to revenue growth , even if it is driven by increasing prices . The US Fed has already indicated multiple interest hikes are in store for 2017 and the Trump Administration is determined to drive the economy and job growth at all costs . This
Administrations first acts were moves to dismantle or dramatically revise a wide range of international trade deals . New deals are likely to incorporate much tougher terms on protecting IP , with China specifically targeted .
So far , Wall Street has liked the prospects , with multiple indexes trading in record
portends improved margins across all media sectors . There are a couple of wild cards . The Republicans ran on a ‘ repeal and replace
Obamacare ’ platform . Health care and drug companies are among the largest advertisers on TV and print . How health care is ultimately reformed
“ There may be more mergers of big media names , especially those with lots of content .”
territory . The markets are usually looking about six months out , so a sharp and protracted reversal could signify serious doubts about how long the business-friendly administration has to correct course . As a media star and businessman ,
will determine how the sector ad spend is impacted . Another involves political advertising . The US Supreme Court unlocked billions of funds for spending on political media in the wake of the controversial ‘ Citizen ’ s United ’ decision .
The Court could revisit the decision but not until the current nominee
President Trump knows how to read financial stats as well as his ratings and retweet counts .
As usual in US politics , the law of unintended consequences is the one that ultimately wins out . Business plans adapt to whatever regulations get put in place or repealed in ways unforeseen by regulators .
for the open Court seat is confirmed . The Citizens United decision allowed corporations to put money into US elections and has led to the creation of enormous ‘ political action committee funds ’ that have pumped billions of dollars into political advertising .
The impacts aren ’ t limited to the US . Among the Trump
Gerbrandt has been a media analyst and research executive for more than 30 years with companies such as Kagan ,
Primedia and Nielsen . Since
2007 he has been principal at
Media Valuation Partners and currently sits on the board of INSP , a basic network with more than 80m subscribers .
He can be contacted at larry @ mediavaluation . com .
What makes the Trump administration so difficult to predict is that it ran on a handful of ideas : Fix healthcare . Reform the immigration process . Renegotiate trade pacts . Rebuild infrastructure and military . Lower personal and corporate taxes and create new jobs .
But Trump didn ’ t really run on a Republican Party platform and won , in part , because he was an outsider without legacy baggage . What was presented was a sketch book of ideas that have yet to be finalised much less coloured in .