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PROVIDENCE, R.I.: LIN TV today posted third-quarter results that beat Wall Streets expectations for the pure-play broadcast company. LIN’s 3Q09 revenues totaled $81.4 million, down nearly 18 percent from a year ago, but exceeding the Street’s estimate of $76.4 million, or down nearly 23 percent.

Political and local ad revenues were key, coming in better than expected. Political was $3 million versus the $1.3 million forecast; local was down 8 percent versus the predicted 13 percent decline.

Net loss was $875,000, compared to a profit of $10.2 million during the year-ago quarter, affected by a $2 million impairment charge ($1.2 million after-tax) on a joint venture with NBC Universal. LIN also acquired Red McCombs Media for $7.9 million during the quarter.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $21 million, down 37 percent but above the Street’s estimate of $17 million, down 49 percent.

Retransmission revenues were up 36 percent compared to last year. The dollar amount is combined with digital revenues, which totaled $10.4 million compared to $8.1 million last year.

LIN (NYSE: TVL) finished the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2009, with cash and equivalents of $11.8 million, versus $20.1 million on Dec. 31, 2008. Outstanding debt was $681 million versus $743 million at the end of 2008.

Looking ahead, LIN said it expects 4Q09 revenues to be down between 8.8 and 14.6 percent--$9.2 million to $15.2 million--from the $104.2 million reported 4Q08, when LIN had nearly $21 million in political revenues.

The Street predicts $84 million, down 19 percent.

For the full year, LIN expects net revenues to decline between 16.6 and 18.1 percent--$66.4 million to $72.4 million--from $399.8 million for 2008.

“Looking ahead, the pace of economic growth and recovery remains uncertain, however, we are experiencing modest improvement in advertising demand,” said Vince Sandusky, LIN president and CEO. “We believe our productivity gains, continued growth in our digital business and the return of political advertising will result in significant cash flow growth in 2010.”

Shares of LIN were up around 5 percent today at $3.59 over yesterday’s average.

More on LIN TV:
October 6, 2009: “LIN TV Acquires Online Ad Company for $7.9 Million”
LIN TV has acquired Red McCombs Media, an online advertising and media services outfit in Austin, Texas, for a reported $7.9 million.

More on LIN
August 10, 2009: “LIN TV Launched on BlackBerry Devices”
LIN TV Corp extended its mobile TV offering to BlackBerry devices.

August 6, 2009: “LIN TV Cuts Loss on Impairment”
LIN’s 27 stations generated $82.5 million during the second quarter, down 20 percent from $103.7 million a year ago.

April 30, 2009: “LIN TV Getting Into iPhones”
LIN TV will use the NOW technology to develop custom iPhone applications for each of its 27 local TV stations.

April 14, 2009: “LIN TV, Belo Risk Breaching Loan Terms”
Executives at both TV groups said the expected to stay in compliance; LIN seeking amended terms if necessary, and Belo hoping it won’t be.

April 1, 2009: “LIN Posts $830 Million Loss on $1 Billion Charge”
LIN wrote down more than $1 billion for the year and took an additional restructuring charge of nearly $13 million.