Hearst Argyle loses financial ground

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Hearst Argyle Television reported a 27% drop in broadcast cash flow to $54.5 million on a 13% drop in revenue to $148.3 million.

The company also said it expects revenue for the second quarter to be down between 10% and 14%. "2001 will undoubtedly be a challenging year for us," said David Barrett, president and CEO, Hearst-Argyle. "But I'm confident that we will come through this difficult period better positioned to recapture solid growth in 2002." In addition to the soft economy, the first quarter declines were attributed to fewer political dollars and fewer Super Bowl dollars in 2001 when CBS had the game.

The group has two CBS affiliates, but had 11 ABC affiliates last year when that network had the big game. Dotcom advertising was also way off, the company said. The company cited four markets that are being particularly hard hit by the weak economy-Boston, Pittsburgh, Sacramento and Kansas City.

Barrett said the company will continue to cut costs where it can, noting that over the past 15 months it has pared staffing levels by 7.5%. - Steve McClellan

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