Barrington cutting staff in soft economy


Net revenues were up 2.6% to $26.7 million in Q1 for Barrington Broadcasting, but CEO Jim Yager notes that the company is dealing with a weak national economy. With increased automation and some innovation, Barrington is out to reduce its workforce by 8%. At the end of 2007 the company had just over 1,000 employees, so it looks like around 80 people will be getting pink slips. Those reductions will be across the technical, production and news staffs.

Barrington had $1.7 million in political advertising to boost its Q1 results, which was a bit ahead of what the company had expected. Local ad sales were up slightly and national down slightly. COO Chris Cornelius noted that local non-transactional business was up 5.5% and the company is working hard to build its direct local business. Each Barrington market has two sales teams, one dealing with agencies and another, which is the top focus, dealing with direct clients.

Asked about the key auto category, Yager said the softness has mostly been in national business. He noted that the Detroit big three had all placed schedules for Q1, but then there were “gigantic cancellations,” particularly by GM.

Q1 operating expenses were up 5.3% in Q1, outpacing the gain in revenues, so broadcast cash flow rose only 1.9% to $7 million for the quarter.

Barrington does not give forward guidance, so there was no comment on Q2 pacings.