Political, Web Ads Buttress Gray Earnings

Gray Television Cuts Net Loss in Q1

Political-season and Internet advertising came to the rescue of Gray Television as its net loss shrank dramatically in its first-quarter earnings. Those gains offset weak results in traditional local and national ad categories.

The Atlanta-based group TV-station operator reduced its net loss to $3.85 million, or red ink of 8 cents per share, from $10.5 million (24 cents) in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter ended March 31 grew 2% to $70.1 million.

Looking at key revenue segments, Gray reported that political advertising climbed to $3.1 million, from $2 million. Internet advertising advanced 28% to $2.6 million.

Its large local-advertising category slid 2% to $45.7 million. National advertising on stations fell 4% to $16.3 million. Some decline in the final two categories was attributable to the change of stations carrying the Super Bowl.

The company is keeping a lid on expenses, as broadcasting expenses (before depreciation, amortization and gain on disposal of assets) rose just 2% to $50 million. “During the first quarter of 2008, we initiated a program of selective staff reductions at our television stations,” Gray said in its earnings release. “These staff reductions are expected to save approximately $5 million in payroll expenses on a fully annualized basis.”