Notes from Jones Day
Well, senior telecom partner Del Smith was there, but it was his firm's event. And I may have spotted one or two other lawyer types, but for the most part, the satellite industry leaders gathered at the inaugural ISCe Satellite Investment Symposium (ISIS NYC '06) at Jones Day today, including executives representing companies like (in random order) Eutelsat, ATCi, GlobeCast, Iridium, Inmarsat, Globalstar, Hughes, Boeing, SES Americom, Sirius, XM, WorldSpace, Loral Skynet and others, along with Wall Street folks from the likes of Morgan Stanley and Bear, Stearns, to name a few, all left their lawyers at home. Del did not appear at all lonely.
Check here for the organizers' briefing on the symposium's panels and sessions.
Just a few random notes:
In his keynote, FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein said, "I'm bullish on satellite." (He also said in his home state of South Dakota "we have more dishes than we have buffalos.") Look for text of the commissioner's keynote on this FCC page (just as soon as they post it).
Analysts were both bullish and bearish about the different sectors. DBS sector stocks have done well, but some investors may be underestimating the costs.
Panels covered DBS, mobile satellite services (and the "topic du jour" for MSS -- ATC or auxiliary terrestrial components), fixed satellite services, satellite radio, and television.
Del mentions two "scary trends." 1. Antitrust, particularly in satellite radio; and 2. FCC relaxing foreign ownership limitations.
(Del also delighted everyone by reading a bit from a book about Magic the cat.)
Lots of discussion about advanced services such as HD and VOD.
Discussions about satellite radio and the IPOD threat, and the "IPOD generation." A good point: The terrestrial radio market has competed with every form of stored music there is.
Sirius, XM, Direct TV, etc. really are media companies.
I did not hear a conclusive answer in connection with nonstop rumors about a merger between Sirius and XM. But I did not expect one.
By consensus of the final panel, the answer to the question whether the romance can last between broadcasters and satellite is: Yes.
(One unrelated note: I see Fed chairman Ben S. Bernanke was also in NYC today but not talking about satellites.)
And my personal favorite comment from Del Smith as I chatted with him after the event: "I love space law." (Yes, Del, we know ;)
Government space official celebrity spotting (after all, this is NYC): Patricia G. Smith, the FAA's Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation flew in (quietly) from Washington, along with manager Herb Bachner of her office, to take in a little satellite finance. It was great to see her and talk with her and Herb; I'll have a lot more on that and some cool news about the FAA/AST gathering Patti is planning for February in separate posts.
Finally, Jones Day will be making the symposium an annual event. In fact, next year's symposium is already scheduled: ISIS NYC '07, Oct. 9, 2007. (This crowd couldn't even wait 12 months to do it again ;)
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Image: Delbert D. Smith, courtesy of Jones Day.