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E.W. Scripps TV Stations on Track for 4Q Surge

NEW YORK: The 10 TV stations belonging to E.W. Scripps are on the way to a very healthy fourth quarter compared to last year. Ad revenues are expected to rise between 35 and 40 percent at the stations on the power of political spending, par the industry. Even without political, 4Q10 is tracking higher than last year, Scripps execs said at the UBS Global Media Communications Conference this week in New York.

“November was stronger than December is pacing, but the company expects local and national advertising at the stations to be up in the low-double-digit range for the two-month period,” the Cincinnati media company said.

The prognostication was in line with guidance Scripps provided Nov. 2. Looking ahead, the company said the economy was still a bit wonky to provide a full-year prediction, so it instead offered guidance for the first six months of 2011.

“Despite tougher comparisons due to the rebound in local television advertising that started in December 2009, Scripps believes year-over-year television ad revenues will increase in the low- to mid-single-digit range, excluding political advertising,” the company said.

Key advertising categories at the TV stations are returning to 2008 levels, Rich Boehne, president and CEO of E.W. Scripps said.

The newspaper business has been a bit tougher for everyone. Scripps expects to log a year-over-year revenue decline, with higher expenses due to newsprint prices. The downtrend is expected to persist into 2011, with some indications of a floor.

“The trends in newspaper advertising are slightly more encouraging,” Boehne said. “Some of our classified advertising categories--such as help wanted and automotive--have shown real strength as 2010 ends.”

For non-operating items, Scripps said it expects restructuring charges of up to $12 million in 2011 for the continuing reorganization of the newspaper division. Depreciation and amortization is expected to be between $40 million and $45 million. Capex should be between $15 million and $20 million. Corporate and shared expenses are expected to remain approximately $8 million per quarter.
-- Deborah D. McAdams