Advertising revenue for major station groups declines

Advertising revenue for the United State’s largest publicly traded television station groups decreased 0.5 percent to $1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2008, according to a new survey by, an independent financial research firm based in Nashville.

The firm estimated that among its sample of 16 station groups, local ad revenue declined 3 percent, while national advertising declined 6 percent during the year’s first quarter. This came in spite of a dramatic six-fold boost in political advertising.

“Automotive advertising, which comprises 20 to 25 percent of revenue for most local broadcasters, was a key factor as several TV operators reported double-digit percentage declines in that category,” founder Steve Wonsiewicz told “Getting those advertisers to loosen their purse strings while auto sales are declining and gas prices are rising is one of the biggest challenges facing television broadcasters this year.”

However, the slowdown in local and national ad spending was offset by growth in political and online advertising. Retransmission agreements with cable and satellite providers also helped to buoy revenues.

The companies included in the survey sample are Sinclair Broadcast Group, Belo, Hearst-Argyle Television, LIN TV, Gray Television, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Young Broadcasting and the television divisions of Gannett, the Washington Post, Meredith, E.W. Scripps, Media General, Entravision Communications, Fisher Communications, Journal Communications and the McGraw-Hill Companies.