Scripps TV Stations Drop on Political

CINCINNATI: Revenue from the E.W. Scripps television stations fell nearly 21 percent for the fourth quarter in the absence of heavy political advertising. The 10 TV stations generated $73.9 million in 4Q09, down from same period in 2008 when they brought in $26 million from political advertising. Scripps said excluding the category, revenue increased 5.4 percent. Local was up nearly 3 percent to $42.7 million; national increased 7.2 percent to $22.2 million. Political for 4Q09 was just $2.9 million.

The uptick in national and local was attributed to more spending by advertisers in the retail and services categories, both of which increased by double digit percentages year-over-year. Automotive advertising was flat in the fourth quarter, but was up 12 percent year-over-year in December. Total advertising revenue in the month of December was up 11 percent compared with the prior-year period.

“Local and national advertising revenue at the TV stations bounced back nicely in the fourth quarter, and that upward trend continues in the early part of this year,” said Rich Boehne, president and CEO of Scripps.

The television segment posted a profit of $14.7 million in the fourth quarter, which was a strong sequential improvement from $3.1 million in the third quarter. Segment profit in the fourth quarter of 2008, which benefited from heavy political advertising, was $31.1 million.

Revenues from retransmission consent agreements more than doubled in the fourth quarter to $2 million. Segment expenses for the station group decreased 4.8 percent to $59.3 million. Year-over-year programming costs, which were 11 percent higher in the third quarter, were flat in the fourth quarter. Year-over-year employee costs decreased 5.3 percent.

Consolidated results for all of the Scripps (NYSE: SSP) divisions came in at $217 million in revenue, down 18 percent from last year. Net income for the quarter was $12.2 million, up from a loss of $12.7 million last year, mainly on write-downs related to the newspaper division.

Shares of E.W. Scripps (NYSE: SSP) jumped nearly 4 percent today to $7.25 in mid-afternoon trading.

More on SSP:
November 5, 2009: “E.W. Scripps TV Station Revenues Fall 22 Percent
"Year-over-year declines in local and national advertising showed sequential improvement compared with the second quarter, when local was down 26 percent and national was down 29 percent.”