$4.2 million in retrans money, while up 41.5%, couldn’t offset local ad sales that were down 22.1% and national that dipped 17%.
The E.W. Scripps Co. today reported first-quarter operating results for its television, newspaper, and licensing and syndication businesses. It said the results reflect continued weakness in advertising sales at the company’s television stations and newspapers.
Revenue from television stations was $60.4 million in the first quarter, a decrease of 20.5 percent from the first quarter of 2008.
Revenue broken down by category was:
Local, down 22.1 percent to $35.6 million
National, down 16.9 percent to $18.4 million
Other, which includes retransmission, rose 41.5 percent to $4.2 million
Political was $177,000, compared to $3.1 million in the 2008 quarter
The decrease in the local and national revenue, Scripps said, was largely attributable to reduced spending by advertisers in the automotive, financial services and retail categories. “As is common for this stage of the election cycle,” it added, “there was virtually no political spending in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the year-ago period that included local, state and national primaries.”
Cash expenses for the station group increased slightly to $62.8 million, compared with $61.8 million a year ago.
Increased pension benefits costs and a curtailment charge related to the company’s plans to freeze the pension plan later this year more than offset a 5 percent decrease in other employee costs.
Programming costs were 12 percent higher due to contractual increases for syndicated programming in several key markets.
The segment loss for the television division was $2.4 million in the first quarter, compared with $14.2 million in segment profit in the first quarter of 2008.
The company as a whole reported consolidated revenue decreased 20 percent to $205 million, compared with $256 million in the first quarter of 2008. The loss from continuing operations, net of tax, was $221 million, or $4.12 per share, compared with income from continuing operations, net of tax, of $8.6 million, or 16 cents per share, in the 2008 quarter.