E.W. Scripps reported television station revenue of $59.8 million for the third quarter, a 22% slide from the same quarter last year. Last year's third quarter benefited from the Olympics and heavy political spending.
Local revenue was off 15% and national dropped 18%--improvements over the second quarter's 26% and 29% decreases. Political revenue was $1.7 million, and Scripps reported "other revenue," including retransmission fees, was up 44% to $4.2 million.
Including its newspaper division, E.W. Scripps' consolidated revenues were $186 million for the quarter, a 19% decrease from the same quarter last year. Newspaper revenue was $104 million, a 20% decrease.
"In the TV station markets, we're seeing some modest improvement in the flow of advertising dollars but we intend to continue funding much of our investment in content and new business categories through the shifting of internal resources," said E.W. Scripps President/CEO Rich Boehne. "At the newspapers, where ad revenues continue to be very weak, we're deep into a restructuring of operations that will both reduce expenses and bring a sharper focus to content and advertising sales."
Boehne sees similar economic woes dragging down fourth quarter results. "As we head into the last quarter of this very difficult year, we believe the advertising and expense trends we experienced in the third quarter will continue," he said. "Newspaper ad revenue declines are moderating slightly, and local and national TV revenues have shown gradual sequential improvement. Comparisons for the TV station group are difficult given the $26 million in political ad revenues we generated during the fourth quarter of 2008."