CBS TV Revenues Off 1 Percent for ’08

(Feb. 20, 2009) NEW YORK: The TV stations and networks in the CBS stable generated revenues of nearly $9 billion last year, down just 1 percent from the previous year. Pre-impairment operating income was $1.5 billion, down 14 percent from 2007 on lower ad sales and a $60.5 million restructuring charge.

The TV results were attributed to a 13 percent decline in ad revenues, a Super Bowl-free year, and the impact of the writers’ strike. Those factors were partially offset by a 41 percent increase in revenues from higher TV license and affiliate fees.

For the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, 2008, the impact of the falling ad market was more apparent. The CBS TV division revenues were down 8 percent to $2.2 billion. Operating income fell 40 percent to $272 million on lower ad sales and a $25 million restructuring charge.

CBS’s consolidated TV, radio, Internet and publishing operations generated 4Q revenues of $3.5 billion versus nearly $3.8 billion the year before, with operating income of $458 million versus nearly $731 million for 4Q07.

Adjusted 4Q earnings were 34 cents a diluted share, more than the 26 cents expected by analysts but down from 56 cents from the year before.

Full-year consolidated revenues were nearly $14 billion, down from less than $15 billion the year before. Operating income before impairment was nearly $2.3 billion for 2008 compared to $2.7 billion in ’07.

A $14 billion write-down on broadcast licenses taken in October pushed operating income into the red to the tune of more than $12 billion.

“As the contraction of the economy accelerated in the fourth quarter, our businesses were affected, in particular our local businesses, but we did not deviate from our ongoing strategy: to create winning content, regardless of the marketplace,” said CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves. “At the same time, we continue to exercise a very disciplined approach to capital investment, and have taken substantial costs out of all of our businesses, in order to help margins going forward.”

To that end, the company slashed its quarterly dividend from 27 cents a share to 5 cents, payable on April 1. CBS (NYSE: CBS) shares jumped 13 percent to more than $5.90 in today’s opening trades before settling mid-day at a 6 percent increase over yesterday’s close of $5.14.