Gray Television Revenues Drop 14 Percent

ATLANTA: Gray Television’s 36 TV stations posted a net loss of $8.9 million for the first quarter, a 132 percent increase from a $3.95 million loss a year ago. Revenues were down 14 percent to $61.4 million compared to $71 million in 1Q08.

The revenue slip was attributed to softer local, national and political advertising revenues, offset somewhat by retransmission fees and the Super Bowl. The 2009 Super Bowl telecast netted Gray (NYSE: GTN0 stations around $750,000 in advertising, up from $130,000 last year. Retrans was up 463 percent to $3.6 million. All other ad segments were down:

Local fell 14 percent to $39.3 million.
National was down 21 percent to $12.9 million.
Internet revenues fell 2 percent to 2.6 million.
Political dropped 67 percent, to $ 1 million.
Production and other revenue decreased 24 percent to $1.8 million.

Gray ended the quarter with cash and equivalents of $14.9 million, compared to $30.6 million at the end of 2008. Long-term and current-portion debt totaled $798.4 million compared to $800 million as of Dec. 31, 2008.

For the second quarter, GTN gave guidance of $63 million to $65 million in revenues, compared to $78.7 million for 2Q08.

“We currently believe our second quarter 2009 local revenue and national revenue, excluding political revenue, will decrease from 2008 results by approximately 12 and 31 percent, respectively,” Gray’s 1Q09 results stated. “While the decline is expected to be reflected in most advertising categories, the automotive advertising category is expected to be particularly challenged during the second quarter of 2009.

“At this time it is unclear as to how the bankruptcy filing by Chrysler LLC will, or a possible bankruptcy filing by General Motors Corp. would, affect our revenue for the second quarter. Political revenues reflect the off-year of the political cycle.”

Retransmission for the second quarter of 2009 is expected to hit $3.8 million, and for the full year, between $15 million and $16 million. Total retrans revenue for 2008 was $3 million. Gray common shares rose to 86 cents today before settling at around 76 cents. A shares reached 96 cents. -- Deborah D. McAdams