Scripps TV Revenue Jumps 31%

Political ads make for "Christmas in November"; ABC affiliation fees on hold as "productive" negotiations continue
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Scripps reported television revenue of $78.5 million in the third quarter, a 31% improvement over the same quarter last year, and 2% better than what Scripps reported in the third quarter of presidential election year 2008.

Local advertising was up almost 5%, national ads climbed 25%, and political ads were good for $14.8 million.

Scripps CFO Tim Stautberg referred to Election Day as "Christmas in November."

Retransmission consent revenue was up 66% to $3 million. Online revenue was up 35% to $2 million.

"The flow of advertising dollars back into local television continues at an encouraging pace, attracted in part by our commitment to delivering larger and more engaged audiences through a determined focus on high-quality local news content," said Scripps President/CEO Rich Boehne. "Many of our key television advertising categories have bounced back to pre-2009 levels."

Network compensation was less than $100,000, compared to the $1.9 million paid out in the third quarter last year. The affiliation agreements between Scripps' six ABC outlets and the network expired earlier this year; they continue to operate under short-term extensions as Scripps and ABC negotiate a long term agreement.

"The conversations continue and are productive," said Senior VP of TV Brian Lawlor, who said an ideal scenario would see the agreements hammered out in the fourth quarter.

Overall, Scripps reported consolidated revenues of $184 million, an increase of 8.6%. Newspaper revenue was down 3.8% in the quarter.

"The reorganization of our newspapers operations has yielded benefits across the board and moves us closer to a long-term sustainable model," Boehne continued. "Advertising revenue declines, while moderating, remain stubborn and particularly challenging due to our exposure to the Florida and California economies. We've taken advantage of this period to reposition our operations there so we can benefit when those long-term growth areas stabilize and recover."

Scripps forecasts a noisy 35-40% increase in television revenue in the fourth quarter, thanks to a robust election season.

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