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Fisher 1Q TV Station Revenue Rises 31 Percent

SEATTLE: Fisher Communications logged one of the more significant revenue increases of the quarter among broadcast groups. Fisher’s 13 full-power and seven low-power stations brought in $26.6 million, up 31 percent over 1Q09.

The majority of broadcast TV station groups are up in the low-20 percents. Most are up on the same phenomena as Fisher--recovery in the automobile sector and increased political advertising.

“The broadcast industry continues to evolve as consumers increasingly turn to emerging channels such as mobile devices and online delivery for more personalized news and entertainment,” said Fisher president and CEO, Colleen Brown.

Fisher is particularly active in the Open Mobile Video Coalition--the group of 600 or so broadcasters working to establish mobile DTV. It was not, however, a member of the venture that formed at NAB to promote mobile DTV. (See “Twelve Broadcast Companies Form Joint Venture for National Mobile DTV.”)

For Fisher, which fell in 4Q09 on cyclical political spending, the category jumped to $752,000 (net) this quarter from $36,000 in 1Q09. Core ad revenues jumped 19 percent to $21 million.

Automotive increased 55 percent; professional services grew 20 percent and retail was up 17 percent.

Television broadcast cash flow increased $2.9 million to $3.2 million; margin was 12 percent compared to 1 percent a year ago.

Retransmission consent revenue for the quarter was $2.6 million, up from $1 million--excluding $906,000 attributable to the 1Q09 under contracts executed in 3Q09. Internet net revenue increased by 87 percent to $623,000, or 2.3 percent of TV revenues.

Total radio TV and real estate revenues were up 24 percent to $35.3 million. Net loss was $2.2 million compared to a $4.3 million net loss a year ago. The 2010 net loss included a $940,000 pre-tax gain on the Sprint Nextel asset exchange. The 2009 net loss included a $1.8 million pre-tax gain on extinguishment of debt.

EBITDA turned positive for the quarter, at $1.8 million, an increase of $3.8 million from the negative EBITDA of $2.1 million in the first quarter of 2009.

Cash and equivalents totaled $44.2 million; outstanding debt was $122.1 million.

Shares of Fisher (NASDAQ: FSCI) climbed nearly 8 percent to $15.28 in late-afternoon trading.
-- Deborah D. McAdams

March 15, 2010
: “Fisher Stations Fall on Political
Revenues at the 20 TV stations owned by Fisher Communications fell 23 percent to $29.1 million for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2009.