Television revenues went flat at Emmis Communications Corp. during its fourth fiscal quarter, but the division’s operating income dropped dramatically.
For the three months ended February, Emmis’ TV sales nudged up less than 1% to $56.6 million, a little less than expected but not bad given that this is not an election year.
But profit dropped 14% to $15 million because expenses rose, Emmis said. Medical and drug advertising increased 20%; home and garden and hardware were up 17%, and automotive was up 10.5%.
On the new tech front, Company Chairman Jeff Smulyan has not made any material progress in his digital broadcast initiative.
The migration to digital broadcasting gives TV stations more channels, but no obvious way to make money off them.
Smulyan wants stations to pool their spectrum to create wireless cable systems, charging subscribers a monthly fee. But he needs far more cooperation than he’s getting, especially from the major networks owned and operated stations.
“I think the most encouraging thing is that everybody says this is the best solution, and it clearly needs to be broad based," says Smulyan. "It's a bit of a challenge getting the industry to come together. It's an industry that does not come together on anything like this in 40 years.”