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LIN Posts $830 Million Loss on $1 Billion Charge

LIN TV posted 2008 results in March that included one of the heftiest impairment charges by a TV group up to that point. LIN wrote down more than $1 billion for the year and took an additional restructuring charge of nearly $13 million.

The charges, related to goodwill, the declining value of broadcast licenses and obsolete broadcast equipment, drove a net loss for the year of $830.4 million, compared to income of $53.7 million for 2007. Revenues were up one percent for the year to $399.8 million compared to $395.9 million in 2007.

A substantial chunk of the write-down came in 4Q, when LIN recorded an impairment charge of $414 million on TV licenses, $309.6 million for goodwill and $8.7 million on dead TV gear, for a total of more than $732 million.

The 4Q net loss totaled nearly $626 million, compared to income of nearly $28 million for 4Q07. Revenues were $104 million for the quarter, compared to $108.6 million for 4Q07.

LIN owns and/or operates 27 stations in 17 markets. By comparison, Hearst-Argyle, which has 29 TV stations, wrote down $940 million for 2008. Barrington wrote down $50 million on its 23 TV stations. Journal Communications, with 12 TV stations, wrote down nearly $78 million. Nexstar, with 50 or so TV stations, wrote off nearly $56 million for the first nine months of 2008. Sinclair, with 58 TV stations is expected to write down around $460 million. Belo wrote down $114 million on its 20 TV stations.

LIN (NYSE; TVL) finished the year with $743.4 million in outstanding debt. Cash and cash equivalents totaled $20.1 million. LIN projected 1Q09 revenues to be down between 20 to 25 percent compared to last year.