Hearst-Argyle Television Thursday reported fourth-quarter revenue of $192 million. That is down from $221 million for the same quarter in 2004, primarily on a $35.6 million drop in political advertising (from $42.5 million to $6 million).
For the year, Hearst-Argyle TV revenues were $706.9 million, down from $779.9 million for 2004, again primarily on a drop in political spending (from $74.4 million to $12.3 million, as well as the absence of $19 million in Olympics revenue from its 10 NBC affiliates).
Fourth quarter earnings per share were 11 cents versus 41 cents in 4Q 2004, but they would have been 30 cents had the company not taken a non-cash charge of $29.2 million for the damage to their New Orleans station business from Hurricane Katrina.
Hearst-Argyle TV President/CEO David Barrett was optimistic about 2006, pointing to 1) strong news performance, 2) retransmission-consent deals that will boost fees to stations in 2006 through 2008, and 3) multiyear affiliation deals with ABC (through 2009) and CBS (through 2015).
Barrett also pointed to new-tech initiatives, including additional investment in Internet Broadcasting, and invesments in USDTV, Weather Plus and Ripe Digital Entertainment, which boosts its presence in digital distribution and content.
Hearst-Argyle owns 25 TVs and manages three other TV stations and two radio stations, plus investments in new-media companies. It is the largest ABC affiliate group with 12 (plus another it manages), and the second largest NBC affiliate group with 10.