Scripps TV Revenues Fall 20 percent

CINCINNATI: The 10 TV stations belonging to E.W. Scripps lost money in the first three months of 2009. The segment posted a net loss of $2.4 million on revenues of $60.4 million in 1Q09, compared to a profit of $14.2 million on revenues of around $76 million last year.

1Q09 revenues by category for the stations were:
- Local, down 22.1 percent to $35.6 million.
- National, down 16.9 percent to $18.4 million.
- Other, which includes retransmission, rose 41.5 percent to $4.2 million.
- Political was $177,000, compared to $3.1 million.

The decrease in the local and national revenue was attributed reductions in automotive, financial services and retail ad spending, and to the typical election-cycle stage. Cash expenses for the station group were $62.8 million, up from $61.8 million a year ago. Increased pension benefits costs, and a curtailment charge related to the company's plans to freeze the pension plan later this year, more than offset a 5 percent decrease in other employee costs. Programming costs were 12 percent higher due to contractual increases for syndicated programming in several key markets.

A $216 million non-cash charge on intangibles--$192 million in the TV division--drove consolidated results to a net loss of $220.8 million on revenues of $205.4 million. The consolidated revenue result was nearly 20 percent off from one year ago, when the company posted a profit of $8.6 million. Cash and equivalents stood at around $10 million as of March 31; long-term debt was $73.1 million.

Shares of Scripps (NYSE: SSP) fell to around $1.87 from an open of $1.96 for the day and from closing at more than $2 on Friday. -- Deborah D. McAdams