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Dick Clark Productions' library may not be music to suitors' ears

June 22, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • Dick Clark Productions has a big library but monetizing it may be a challenge.
Dick Clark Productions has a big library but monetizing it may be a challenge. (Associated Press )

Dick Clark was fond of saying "music is the soundtrack to your life."

It probably won't be the soundtrack to the sale of Dick Clark Productions.

Put on the block last week by Red Zone Capital Management, a private equity firm controlled by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, Dick Clark Productions counts among its assets more than 30 years of episodes of "American Bandstand," the weekly dance show of top hits that usually featured big-name singers performing as well.

That would seem to be a potential gold mine of rock 'n' roll history, but making money off of it is another story. Although Dick Clark Productions (DCP) owns the shows, it doesn't own the musical rights to the performances (most of which were lip-synced).

Getting permission to reuse those shows requires a lot of legal work. Not only would a new "master use" license be needed for any reuse of a clip or show, but there are also the underlying rights to the songs themselves, which are held by the publisher.

There are also public performance rights, which would likely be needed before a clip or show could be used in a new platform.

Not only does this add up to a big expense, but even locating the rights holders for those songs and performers would be no small task.

"With all those shows and all those songs, it would take a monumental administrative effort to track down who all the current rights holders are," said Gary Roth, executive vice president of business and legal affairs for Broadcast Music Inc., which collects license fees for songwriters, composers and music publishers. 

Red Zone has retained the Raine Group, a boutique investment bank that is backed by Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor, to handle the possible sale of the company.

Although there has been lots of speculation already about potential DCP suitors, Raine is not expected to ask for indications of interest from would-be buyers until after the July 4 holiday. Most often mentioned as a likely bidder are Ryan Seacrest, who had ties to Clark and his company, and still hosts Clark's traditional "New Year's Rockin' Eve," and Core Media Group, which co-produces "So You Think You Can Dance" with DCP. 

But the $400-million price tag that has been floated by people close to DCP may make some buyers blanch. That is more than twice what Red Zone paid for the company in 2007. DCP's biggest assets are the television rights to popular awards shows, including the Golden Globes and the Academy of Country Music Awards.

That $400-million figure would represent a valuation of more than 10 times the company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), estimated two industry executives familiar with the company. Although the closely held DCP doesn't reveal financial information, these executives thought DCP had EBITDA between $35 million and $40 million. One potential suitor said the lack of a strong library might lead some buyers to offer a price at a multiple between six and seven times DCP's EBITDA.

Motivating Red Zone's desire to sell is Six Flags Inc. The theme park owner also holds a 40% stake in DCP and wants to cash out, according to people close to the company.

DCP Chief Executive Mark Shapiro declined to comment for this story.


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