Washington Post TV Stations Down 4 Percent in ’08

(Feb. 27, 2009) WASHINGTON: The six TV stations in The Washington Post stable put up a good fight in 2008 thanks to revenues from political and Olympics advertising. The stations generated revenues of $325.1 million in ’08, down 4 percent from $340.0 million in 2007. Par usual, the dip was attributed to the ad-market collapse. It was offset by $22.3 million in political and $6.3 million from the Olympics. Otherwise, the slide would have been 13 percent, to $296.5 million for the year ending Dec. 31. 2008.

TV station operating income for the year was $123.5 million, down 13 percent from $142.1 million in ’07.

The Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) has NBCs in Detroit and Houston; ABCs in Miami and San Antonio, Texas; a CBS in Orlando, Fla.; and an indie in Jacksonville, Fla. During 2008, the stations recorded a $6.9 million non-cash property gain from Sprint Nextel for BAS relocation. The wireless carrier has charged with retooling broadcast auxiliary service equipment so it can move into spectrum traditionally used for TV station ENG operations.

For 4Q, the stations recorded $86.6 million in revenues, down 7 percent from $93.5 million in the year-previous period. Sans $13.9 million in political, revenues would have been $72.7 million, a 22 percent decline. Operating income declines 10 percent, to $37.1 million from $41.5 million in 4Q07.

The combined WPO operations posted 2008 net income of $65.7 million on revenues of $4.5 billion, down 77 percent and up 7 percent, respectively, from 2007. The results included a $142.3 million impairment charge on newspaper and online operations; a $111.1 million early retirement charge; $22.3 million in accelerated depreciation on the planned closing of the Post’s College Park, Md., plant and other restructuring expenses.

WPO shares dipped about 3 percent, from around $370 to around $360 on news of the 77 percent operating loss.