Sinclair Begins Multicasts

WBFF-TV, a Baltimore Fox affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., recently launched a multicast channel carrying syndicated and local programming in the Baltimore market.

WBFF-DT-45.2, a second channel off WBFF's primary program signal, can be accessed over-the-air and on the Comcast and Millennium digital cable systems and on Verizon's FIOS- TV service when it's launched in Baltimore. The new digital channel broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The company made the announcement this week as it released its latest quarterly figures, reporting a profit of $11.2 million, or 13 cents per share, up from $8.8 million, or 10 cents a share, a year ago. Net broadcast revenues from continuing operations were $147.9 million for the quarter ending March 31, 2006, an increase of 2.4 percent from $144.4 million. Revenue was down 2 percent to $163.5 million, from $163.9 million in 2005. National advertising revenue decreased 7.5 percent, which the company said was in part due to the Olympics.

"Despite the Olympics, which only one of our stations participates in, and despite the Super Bowl's broadcast moving from FOX to ABC, we had only one category, automotive, which advertised less in any meaningful way as compared to five industry sectors that advertised significantly more during the quarter," said David Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair.

The company said that automotive represents 21 percent of the company's revenue stream.

"On the expense side, we redefined the mission of our News Central operations and re-launched many of its newscasts through news share arrangements. Based on the changes we have made to date, we expect our news costs to decline by approximately $5 million this year," Smith said.

Sinclair recently entered into affiliation agreements with the CW Television Network on its remaining WB, UPN and independent stations, bringing a sense of closure to any uncertainty about those stations' affiliations. It previously announced that 17 of its WB and UPN stations affiliated with Fox's My Network Television.

"We believe the net impact from the MyNetworkTV and CW agreements could be an increase to our net broadcast revenues of $10 million on an annualized basis, of which $3.5 million could be realized this year," Smith said.