Fisher Falls on Ad Slump

SEATTLE: Fisher TV stations showed the effects of an off-election year, in addition to the industrywide slump in advertising. The 13 full-power and seven low-power stations took in $22.7 million in the second quarter, a decline of 26 percent from a year ago.

The drop was attributed to lower local, national, and political advertising revenue at a majority of Fisher stations. TV broadcast cash flow was $1.1 million, compared with $9.1 million in 2Q08, which included impairment of nearly $5 million. The 87 percent BCF slide was attributed solely to revenue declines. The segment posted an operating loss of nearly $2.2 million, down from operating income of $152,000 in 2Q08.

During the second quarter, the television segment recorded $247,000 in political revenues compared to $2.2 million last year. Retransmission generated $791,000, up 6 percent over last year. The retrans total excludes nearly $1 million in fees attributable to agreements that were finalized but not executed until the third quarter. Fisher said a likewise $1 million retrans gain was similarly excluded in the first quarter. Both will be recorded in the third quarter.

Consolidated revenues for Fisher’s (NASDAQ: FSCI) TV, radio and real estate properties were $32 million, compared to revenue of $45.7 million last year. Net loss was $2.1 million, or 24 cents a share, compared to net income of $63.7 million, or $7.29 cents a share for the second quarter of 2008.

Cash and equivalents were $58.8 million at the end of the quarter, versus $91.5 million at the end of last year. The reduction was attributed to Fisher’s repurchase of $28 million in senior notes during the first half of 2009.

Total outstanding debt was $122.1 million, compared to $150 million at the end of 2008. The company’s stock was trading at $19.40 in early afternoon, having reached more than $21 late Tuesday, after a wider market rally slipped on concerns of continued unemployment.
-- Deborah D. McAdams

More TVB coverage of Fisher Communications:
June 10, 2009:“Fisher Stations Restored to Dish Network”
Fisher Communications are back on the Dish Network line-up, the two companies said this week. Fisher and Dish said in a joint statement they’d reached a multiyear distribution agreement. It covers Fisher stations in seven markets, and ends the litigation between the two companies.

April 29, 2009: “Fisher Falls on Politics and Cars”
Retransmission helped the20 Fisher Communications TV stations during the first quarter of 2009, but it couldn’t make up for the implosion of the automobile sector. TV revenues fell 27 percent to $20.3 million. Political was down 94 percent, from $604,000 last year to $39,000 this year. Automotive fell 62 percent; retail, down 34 percent and professional services, down 23 percent.

April 21, 2009: “Fisher Signs Up for Interactivity”
Fisher Communications has signed a station group agreement with Backchannelmedia to deploy its opt-in Clickable TV technology. The technology enables interactivity and bookmarking of TV content and ads.

April 10, 2009: “Firms Advise Fisher Shareholders to Block Gamco Gambit”
Fisher Communication said today its advisers have recommended a “no” vote on a proposal from an institutional investor wanting to limit Fisher’s ability to buy assets.