E.W. Scripps TV Stations Log 31 Percent Hike in Revenues

CINCINNATI: The 10 TV stations in the E.W. Scripps portfolio logged a 31 percent increase in revenues for the third quarter of 2010. Scripps’ TV revenues totaled $78.5 million for the quarter, up 2 percent from the 2008 election cycle. TV segment profit totaled $17.7 million versus $3.1 million a year ago.

“The flow of advertising dollars back into local television continues at an encouraging pace, attracted in part by our commitment to delivering larger and more engaged audiences through a determined focus on high-quality local news content,” said Rich Boehne, Scripps president and CEO. “Many of our key television advertising categories have bounced back to pre-2009 levels.”

Local was up nearly 5 percent to $37.6 million; national was up 25 percent to $20.1 million--both boosted by automotive. The category grew 70 percent over 3Q09, “despite displacement cause by the surge in political ads,” Scripps said. Political increased by $14.8 million over 2009, a non-election year.

Network compensation was less than $100,000, compared with $1.9 million in 3Q09. The company’s affiliation agreements with ABC, which include six Scripps stations, expired on Jan. 31, 2010. The Scripps stations have continued to operate as ABC affiliates under short-term extensions while Scripps and ABC negotiate a new long-term affiliation agreement.

Retransmission revenue increased 66 percent to $3 million, and online revenue increased 35 percent to $2 million.

Consolidated revenues from the TV, newspaper and online operations were $184 million, an increase of 8.6 percent from $169 million in the year-ago quarter. Profit was $6.2 million versus a loss of $3.3 million a year ago. Profit for 3Q10 included a tax benefit of $5.5 million.

Scripps said it had essentially no long-term debt at the end of the third quarter, while cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments totaled $194 million.

For 4Q10, year-over-year growth in television ad revenues is expected to be 35 to 40 percent, including $28 million in political advertising. Shars of E.W. Scripps (NYSE: SSP) rose 7 percent to $9.34.
-- Deborah D. McAdams