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Sinclair Exceeds Expectations With Revenue Down 6.4% in Q4 - Broadcasting & Cable

Sinclair Exceeds Expectations With Revenue Down 6.4% in Q4

Auto advertising, up 20% in first quarter, driving rebound
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Sinclair Broadcast Group announced net broadcast revenues of $153.9 million
in the fourth quarter of 2009, a 6.4% decrease from the same quarter a year
before. That decrease is considerably smaller than what other broadcasters have
been reporting for the fourth quarter, and beat
Sinclair's own forecast
of an 11-12.8% decrease for the quarter, which it
issued Jan. 4.

"The fourth quarter finished stronger than expected primarily on improving
advertising spending trends by the automotive sector," commented Sinclair
President/CEO David Smith. "For the first quarter 2010, we expect net
broadcast revenues to be up by low double digit percents, despite only three of
our 58 owned and operated stations having coverage of the Olympics and Super
Bowl. We continue to see strengthening of many of our advertising categories,
in particular automotive, which we expect to be up almost 20% in the first
quarter 2010, as compared to the same period last year."

Sinclair's net broadcasting revenue for the full year was $554.6 million, a
13.2% slide from the 2008 tally.

Sinclair booked $4.1 million in political revenue in the fourth quarter, down
from $25.6 million in the same quarter of 2008. Local broadcast revenues were
up 2.1% in the quarter while national revenues were down 23%.

The broadcaster sees a rosier first quarter. "The company expects first
quarter 2010 station net broadcast revenues from continuing operations, before
barter, to grow by low double digit percents as compared to first quarter 2009
station net broadcast revenues of $131.3 million," Sinclair said in a
statement.

"We believe the worst of the advertising recession is now behind us,
having seen fourth quarter 2009 revenue improvements and an expectation for
growth in the first quarter 2010," said Executive VP/CFO David Amy.
"Despite Toyota's problems, we
believe we are being led out of the advertising recession on the backs of the
automotive industry which appear to be focused once again on growing their
market share."

It's a dramatic turnaround for Sinclair, which was discussing the possibility
of bankruptcy
just seven months ago.

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