The shortfall comes despite record political advertising for the year and a 24.4% boost in retransmission consent payments. Revenue for the year was down 4.7% to $720.5 million.
Despite record political advertising and a substantial increase in retransmission consent payments, Hearst-Argyle Television today reported that revenue dropped 9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the prior year.
The station group blamed the shortfall on decreases in several major advertising categories, including the automotive, retail, telecommunications., movies, restaurant, health services and furniture.
It also said it suffered declines in digital media revenue.
For the year, revenue was $720.5 million, off 4.7 percent from 2007.
“Political revenues of $93 million were a record high for our company, and certainly a highlight for us, as was our continued growth in retransmission consent fees,” said President and CEO David Barrett in a prepared statement.
“Unfortunately, depressed local economies in our largest markets and states such as California and Florida, and further significant declines in auto spending and other recession-sensitive categories, outweighed our political and retransmission gains.
“Digital revenues, which got off to a strong start earlier in the year, were also affected by recessionary conditions, and were flat to prior year due to fourth quarter weakness.”
Retransmission consent payments for the year rose 24.4 percent over last year to $26.9 million.
Read the full earnings report here.