ACME Communications reports up quarter


ACME Communications was back in black ink in Q3 after just missing in Q2. Net revenues from continuing operations were up 3% to $4.8 million. Revenues from ACME’s stations were up 5%, while revenues from the syndicated morning show “The Daily Buzz” were down 9%.

The reference to “continuing operations” is due to LIN Media exercising its option to buy ACME’s CW affiliates in Dayton and Green Bay. Those stations are now treated as discontinued operations, with the sale closings anticipated in the first half of 2011. The Green Bay portion of the deal is taking a while because it requires a failed station waiver from the FCC.

ACME said the Q3 revenue gain was primarily driven by higher ad sales at its Albuquerque duopoly. The Albuquerque duop also helped drive station costs down 10% due to the shared services agreement now in place with LIN.

Adjusted EBITDA was still negative in the quarter, but only by $237,000, compared to negative EBITDA of $606,000 a year earlier.

ACME’s net loss in Q3 was $390,000, compared to a loss of $1.4 million in Q3 2009.

“Driven by heavy political spending during the back half of third quarter our market total revenues grew nicely including a small uptick for core advertising categories. We completed the vast majority of our LIN transition process related to our joint sales and shared services agreements by late September. Cost savings and revenue growth continue a positive trend in the fourth quarter 2010.  We remain focused on creating opportunities to replicate our LIN deal, and are looking for similar or other arrangements to unlock shareholder value by selling off our remaining assets in a swift orderly fashion,” said Doug Gealy, ACME’s President and CEO.

RBR-TVBR observation: If you’re keeping track, the “continuing operations” at ACME consist of four stations: KWBQ/KASY Albuquerque; WBXX Knoxville and WBUW Madison. All are CW affiliates except KASY, which is MyNet. ACME’s roots go back to the birth of the defunct WB network. Operating standalone affiliates of first WB and then CW profitably has proved to be challenging in a marketplace that has moved to duopolies with Big Four networks. Eventually it looks like all of the ACME stations will be sold into such duops.