The drop to $486 million was driven by a $66 million decrease in net political advertising revenue, partially offset by an increase in net core ad revenue, a 22% increase in retrans and 3% higher carriage fee money.
Tribune Media today reported fourth quarter earnings results that included Television and Entertainment Segment revenue of $486 million, a decrease of 8% from $525.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The company said this was driven by a $66 million decrease in net political advertising revenue, partially offset by an increase in net core advertising revenue (comprised of local and national advertising, excluding political and digital) of $8.3 million, or 3%, an increase in retransmission revenues of $19.3 million, or 22%, and an increase in carriage fee revenue of $0.9 million, or 3%.
(In May 2017, it was announced that Tribune is being bought by Sinclair for $43.50 per share, for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of approximately $2.7 billion in net debt.)
Television and Entertainment operating profit was $127.2 million compared to $136.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, a decrease of $9.6 million, or 7%, primarily due to lower revenues, partially offset by lower programming and other expenses.
Television and Entertainment adjusted EBITDA was $183.2 million compared to $199.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, a decrease of $16.3 million, or 8%.
Television and Entertainment broadcast cash flow was $162.9 million as compared to $207.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2016, a decrease of $44.2 million, or 21%.
The company as a whole reported consolidated operating revenues of $489 million compared to $529.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, representing a decrease of $40.6 million, or 8%.
Consolidated operating profit was was $129.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to $113.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2016, representing an increase of $15.9 million.
For the full year 2017, consolidated operating revenues were $1,849.0 million compared to $1,947.9 million for the full year 2016, representing a decrease of $99.0 million, or 5%. Full-year consolidated operating profit was $108.5 million compared to $433.6 million in the full year 2016, representing a decrease of $325.1 million
Peter Kern, Tribune Media’s CEO, said: “2017 was a transformational year for Tribune Media, in which we focused aggressively on streamlining our cost structure, selling non-core assets, returning capital to our stockholders, and most importantly, on the completion of our previously announced merger with Sinclair.
“During the year we sold real estate and other non-core businesses and assets for total pretax proceeds of over $1 billion and returned approximately $590 million to stockholders. While advertising was down for the year due to the off-year political cycle and a weaker overall advertising market, in the fourth quarter, we saw growth in core advertising and continued growth in retransmission revenues. We were also pleased that for the full year, despite increases in network affiliate fees, consolidated cash expenses were down compared to 2016, as we continued disciplined cost management across the company.”
Kern continued, “Looking ahead to 2018, while we are keenly focused on the completion of our pending merger, we also see growth opportunities in the core business, with the shift in our programming strategy at WGN America expected to turn that business into a significant EBITDA contributor, and the highly contested midterm elections expected to drive a resurgence of political advertising revenue across our diverse footprint of stations. In addition, we expect to realize significant tax savings from the recent changes in the tax code on both our core business operations as well as on any potential gains from continued asset sales.”
Read the company’s report here.