The decrease comes from lower local, national and political advertising revenue at a majority of its stations, partially offset by an increase in retrans revenue and 0.6% revenue growth at its Univision stations.
Fisher Communications Inc. today announced its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, and reported that it television revenue was $20.3 million, a decrease of 27% compared with the same period last year, reflecting.
Fisher said the decline was attributable to lower local, national and political advertising revenue at a majority of its stations, partially offset by an increase in retransmission revenue and 0.6% revenue growth at its Univision stations. TV broadcast cash flow (BCF) was $252,000, compared with $6.7 million in the same period of 2008, a decrease of 96%. The large decrease in BCF, it said, “was solely attributable to the revenue shortfall as operating expenses decreased 5.9% year over year.”
Key advertising categories experienced significant year-over-year declines, it said, including automotive (down 62%), retail (down 34%) and professional services (down 23%).
During the first quarter, the television segment recorded $39,000 of political revenue, compared to $604,000 during the same period last year, a decrease of 94%. Fisher recorded $973,000 in total retransmission consent revenue in the first quarter, an increase of 39% from the first quarter of 2008. This amount excludes approximately $950,000 to $1 million in retransmission fees for the first quarter attributable to certain retransmission consent agreements with key provisions, including economic terms, agreed upon, but which remained unexecuted at March 31.
The company said it completed negotiations for new retransmission consent agreements with over 50 distribution partners. Retransmission revenue increased 39% from the first quarter of 2008, not including expected retransmission fees of approximately $950,000 to $1 million not recorded in the first quarter attributable to contracts that were negotiated but not executed at quarter end.
The company added that “despite its good faith efforts, Fisher to date has been unable to negotiate a new retransmission agreement with Dish Network. As a result, Dish subscribers in Fisher’s seven television markets have been unable to watch the company’s television stations since Dec. 17, 2008, the expiration date of the previous satellite carriage agreement between Dish and Fisher.”
Fisher continued: “Dish’s CEO, Charlie Ergen, has repeatedly vetoed agreements in principal negotiated and agreed upon by Fisher and Dish representatives. The company believes Dish is unwilling to negotiate a final contract unless Fisher drops its pending lawsuit against Dish. Fisher filed a breach of contract suit against Dish in federal court in Oregon claiming that Dish owes the company approximately $1 million in retransmission fees under the prior carriage agreement for a station that Dish was contractually obligated to carry and pay for after it was acquired by Fisher in 2006.”