Strong political spending paced Fisher Communications to $37.9 million in television revenue in the fourth quarter, a 12% boost over the same quarter a year ago. Same-station revenue for the 13 Fisher TV stations was up 3.8% in the quarter, despite a 44% drop in automotive advertising.
Gross television political revenue was $13.8 million in the quarter, up $8.5 million (159%) from the same quarter in 2007. That's with "virtually no presidential campaign spending," reports Fisher.
Helping the revenue picture was Fisher's acquisition of KBAK and KBFX Bakersfield.
For the full 2008, television revenue was up 12%, compared to 2007. Same-station revenue was up 2.7%.
"The economic slowdown deepened in the fourth quarter, which resulted in further declines in advertising spending, most notably in the key categories of Automotive and Retail," said Fisher President/CEO Colleen B. Brown. "Despite the weakening advertising picture, Fisher was able to increase same-station revenue, in the fourth quarter as well as 2008 as a whole, due to strong political spending and improved market share in a majority of our markets.
"In this weak economic environment, we will remain focused on improving our operational performance," she continued. "We will continue to aggressively compete for every advertising dollar and strategically identify new streams of revenue, including retransmission from our distribution partners, our Internet platform and our digital spectrum. We also will maintain a disciplined focus on containing costs, but are mindful of avoiding decisions that will undermine the significant momentum we have achieved in improving our operations over the past several years."