Quarterly Earnings: Sinclair Posts Gain in Q1 Broadcast Revenue

Local ad sales, Super Bowl and retrans cash give Sinclair 8.5% boost in broadcast revenues.

Sinclair Broadcast Group reported broadcast revenues from continuing operations were $160.9 million for the first quarter, up 8.5% versus the first quarter of 2007. Operating income was $46.2 million for the quarter, up 23% over the same quarter last year.

Local advertising revenues were up 6.1% in the quarter and national jumped 6.4%.

Total revenues for the quarter were $186.7 million, up from $164.9 million in the first quarter of 2007. Total operating expenses for the quarter were $140.4 million, up from $127.4 million in the first quarter of 2007.

Sinclair president/CEO David Smith attributed the gains to a strong automotive category, the Super Bowl and cash from retransmission consent deals.

“Despite the economic challenges facing many commercial and consumer sectors,” Smith said, “we were successful in growing our net broadcast revenues by $12.6 million in the first quarter due to increased spending by the automotive, services and media sectors, having the Super Bowl on our 20 FOX stations, which brought in an additional $4.9 million in revenues, and cash payments from multi-channel video program distributors."

Time sales on Sinclair’s Fox, CBS and NBC stations were up 15.4%, 24.6% and 8.3% in the quarter, respectively. Stations affiliated with ABC, MyNetworkTV and The CW, meanwhile, were down 3.3%, 0.7% and 1.6%, respectively.

“All of our affiliate groups are currently pacing higher as compared to this time last year, with the exception of our ABC stations which lost momentum as a result of the writers’ strike that ended in February," commented Executive VP/CFO David Amy. "However, we are confident that the stations' performance will improve as ABC adds the network programs back to the line-up. Meanwhile, our FOX stations continue to over-perform on the strength of our local news and network primetime.”