Scripps Reports 5% Bump in Q3 Station Revenue

Political ads, Olympics push Scripps' stations into plus column amid 9% revenue drop company-wide
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E.W. Scripps Company reported $230 million in revenue for the third quarter, down 9% from the same quarter of 2007. The company reported a loss from continuing operations of $21 million, compared with income of $16.6 million in the same quarter last year.

The results represent Scripps’ television, newspaper, and licensing and syndication businesses. The operations that formerly comprised the company’s Scripps Networks and interactive media divisions, which were spun off into a separate publicly traded company in July, are reported in previous periods as discontinued operations.

The story was a happier one for Scripps’ 10 television stations. Revenue for the quarter was $76.9 million, a 5% bump over the third quarter last year. Local advertising was down 6.4% and national was down 14.6%, but $10 million in political advertising and the Olympics pushed Scripps’ stations into the plus column. Yesterday, Scripps promoted company veteran Brian Lawlor to the head of its TV operations.

Scripps President/CEO Rich Boehne said the company’s split had it well positioned for the future. “Behind all the accounting noise related to the separation is a healthy company built upon a collection of solid media businesses in attractive local markets,” he said. “Even through these challenging economic times, Scripps is fortunate to be able to focus on the opportunities ahead as local media markets adjust to the full impact of the Internet and other digital media platforms.

“To put Scripps in the best possible position to exploit opportunities and build value for shareholders during this period of economic uncertainty, we've made a series of decisions—including headcount reductions, suspension of the dividend and other expense reductions—that will keep our debt low and balance sheet healthy. These are unusual times, not without difficulty and peril. But we believe dedication to strong financial health in the short term will yield outsized returns over the long term for those in position to exploit the transformation of our industry.”

Scripps said fourth quarter results are hard to predict: “Fast-changing economic conditions, which weigh heavily on the decisions of advertisers, complicate the forecasting of fourth-quarter performance. Management believes that the third-quarter revenue and expense trends will continue into the fourth quarter.”

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