Sinclair’s Third Quarter: Retrans Gains Exceed Drop in Political Ads

Despite a $6.6 million decline in political ad revenues compared with the year-ago quarter, Sinclair Broadcast Group reported third-quarter revenues nearly identical to last year’s.

The nation’s largest independent owner of stations reported income of $32.9 million in the three-month period, down 13.4 percent from the $38.0 million in 3Q 2006. Earnings per share was 11¢, versus 25¢ a year ago.

“Our ability to successfully negotiate retransmission consent agreements resulted in additional revenues which more than offset the loss of political advertising spending in the third quarter,” the company reported.

Local advertising revenues were flat versus the third quarter of 2006, while national advertising revenues decreased 13.2 percent, primarily due to lower political ad revenues and weakness on the MyNetworkTV stations, although David Amy, Sinclair’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the company is “seeing local sales momentum building on the MyNetworkTV stations in response to some of the network’s program line-up changes.”

Excluding political revenues, local advertising revenues were up 2.7 percent and national advertising revenues were down 5.5 percent. Time sales were up on Sinclair’s Fox and CBS stations and down on its ABC, CW, MyNetworkTV and NBC affiliates.

In addition to running television stations, Sinclair is trying its hand in real estate. Closing of its sale of WGGB (Springfield, Mass.) Nov. 1 netted the company about $21.2 million, and it has sunk more than $30 million this year into real estate properties in Annapolis, Md., Chapel Hill, N.C., and Baltimore.