After reporting strong results for the final quarter of 2010 and reinstating the company’s dividend payments to shareholders, management of Sinclair Broadcast Group was upbeat about the year ahead.
Looking back at Q4, Sinclair Television Group COO Steve Marks said net TV revenues were up 23.5% to $189.9 million. Excluding the $26.8 million of political, broadcast revenues still gained 8.9%.
2010 was a record-setting political year for Sinclair. For the full year political revenues were $41.9 million, up 34.9% from 2006, the previous federal election year without a presidential race, and 2% over 2008, which did have a presidential election. “Based on current information in the marketplace, we are expecting 2012 to be another record-breaking year for political spending,” Marks told analysts in the company’s quarterly conference call.
For Q4 local broadcast revenues were up 18.9%, or 12.1% excluding political. National rose 35.3%, or 0.2% excluding political. Marks noted that political advertising had crowded out some regular advertisers during the quarter.
“2011 has gotten off to a strong start, leading us to believe that the core advertising business will grow this year. Drivers will come from the Super Bowl, which aired on our 20 Fox affiliates, further recovery in the economy, early political spending in the back half of the year, and growth in major categories, such as automotive and telecommunications. And don’t forget that the 2012 political year is just around the corner,” Marks said.
For Q1 net broadcast revenues are expected to grow 5.3-5.8%. Excluding political, core business is expected to be up 6.1-6.6%. “Growth in the first quarter is expected to come from automotive, which we anticipate being up 18%, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. Restaurants and media are expected to finish the quarter down from last year,” he told analysts.