The decrease to $61 million is blamed mostly on the fall in political ad money from $11 million to $2 million. Retrans was the bright spot, with fees nearly doubling from a year ago.
Meredith Corp. today reported fiscal 2010 first quarter revenues for its Local Media Group of $61 million, down 13 percent from $70 million in the same quarter last year.
Operating profit for the group was $2 million, compared to $11 million in the prior-year period, primarily due to $5 million less in net political advertising revenues and continued weakness in automotive advertising across the industry.
Non-political revenues were $60 million — a decline of 7 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 versus the prior-year period — but an improvement over the 20 percent decline reported in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009.
Revenues from retransmission fees nearly doubled in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 from the prior-year period, reflecting, the company said, its successful renegotiation of retransmission agreements with all seven of the major cable operators in its markets. Revenues at Meredith Video Solutions, Meredith’s in-house video production group, grew strongly. The gains were driven primarily by growth in custom video projects for corporate clients, as well as continued expansion of the daily Better television show — now carried in more than 50 markets reaching more than 40 percent of U.S. households.
Local Media Group operating expenses declined 2 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2010, compared to the prior-year period. Meredith continued to implement its plan to reduce expenses and improve efficiency by centralizing certain functions — including master control, traffic and research — across its television stations. The company said the benefits from these activities “are expected to be realized starting in the second half of fiscal 2010.”
“We’re encouraged by the progress made by our Local Media Group in the first quarter of fiscal 2010,” said Meredith President-CEO Stephen M. Lacy. “Advertising continued to improve as the quarter progressed, and we grew other sources of revenue, including retransmission fees and video production activities.”