But the $70 million was a 17% gain from the same period in 2009, the last non-election third quarter. Local was up 11%, national was down 6.6% and retrans grew 32%.
The E.W. Scripps Co. reported operating results for the third quarter of 2011 that it said reflect slightly better expense discipline than management estimated in August, and a revenue decline caused principally by lower political spending in this non-election year.
Total revenue from the company’s television stations was $69.9 million in the third quarter of 2011 — an 11% decrease compared with $78.5 million in the year-ago period, but a 17% increase from the same period in 2009, the previous third quarter in a non-election year.
Excluding political advertising from the 2011 and 2010 totals, revenue increased 6.5%.
Advertising revenue broken down by category was:
- Local, up 11% to $41.7 million
- National, down 6.6% to $18.8 million
- Political was $2.1 million, compared with $14.8 million in the 2010 quarter
Revenue from retransmission consent agreements increased 32% year over year to $4.0 million.
Digital revenue was $2.2 million, an increase of 11% compared with the third quarter of 2010.
Expenses for the TV station group rose by 2.7 percent year over year to $62.5 million in the third quarter. Slightly lower programming expenses were offset by higher employee costs as a consequence of the decision earlier this year to restore certain retirement plan benefits. Programming costs are expected to drop further since Oprah no longer airs.
The television division’s segment profit in the third quarter was $7.5 million, compared with segment profit in the year-ago quarter of $17.7 million.
“We continue to reshape Scripps, improving the company’s short-term and long-term opportunities for growth,” said Rich Boehne, Scripps president-CEO. “We believe local TV stations are both good businesses today and attractive launching pads for the future, which is why during the quarter we agreed to purchase the nine stations now owned by McGraw-Hill Broadcasting. At a purchase price of $212 million, we should show a strong return on investment and gain access to TV and digital media consumers and advertisers in Indianapolis, Denver and San Diego. Plus we picked up a great small-market station in Bakersfield, Calif., and access to the developing Spanish-language market through five Azteca stations in Colorado and California. We’re eager to close the deal and bring these businesses into the Scripps fold.
“In our current television markets, we’re seeing improved ratings through investments in the quality of on-air news programming. Higher local news ratings are driving underlying revenue growth that will provide a strong base on which we’ll stack political advertising in 2012. Local TV advertising grew at a double-digit pace in the third quarter and was up substantially from the amounts we booked in the previous non-political year 2009.”
Read the company’s report here.