Barrington Broadcasting reports that its JSA/SSA deals with Granite Broadcasting in Syracuse, NY and Peoria, IL increased cash flow in those markets by $180K in Q1. Gross revenues, meanwhile, were down 16.9% for all of Barrington.
“In the first quarter, Barrington continued to reduce its operating expenses through increased operating efficiencies. In addition, we saw an increase in interactive revenues and revenues from retransmission consent agreements, and we began to see positive results of our increased sales presence in our markets. However, these positive trends were offset by continued weakness in local and national advertising,” said CEO Jim Yager.
Gross revenues for the quarter declined 16.9% to $26 million. Local revenues dropped 14.4% to $16.5 million, national dropped 30% to $5.8 million and political declined to $200K from $1.7 million. However, “other revenues,” including retransmission consent payments, shot up 71% to $3.6 million.
Barrington managed to reduce operating expenses by 6.4% in Q1 to $2 million, primarily due to workforce reductions that took place in 2008.
Broadcast cash flow was down 38% in Q1 to $4.4 million.
COO Chris Cornelius provided some details on Q1 performance. Local direct revenues were down only 5.4% as the company continues to focus on the ad sales it can most directly impact. Local/regional agency business declined 20.2%. “We continue to have confidence long-term in our local revenue development strategy,” he said.
Cornelius noted that the national marketplace was more of a challenge. Within the reported 30% decline, the largest category, automotive, was down 53.4%. “With Barrington’s large Midwest footprint, we have increased sensitivity to the domestic automakers decrease in spending, which doesn’t have the large offset from import dealer groups that other markets have,” he said.
Having received a $16 million cash infusion from owner Pilot Group in February, Barrington is permitted under an amendment to its credit agreement to use up to $13 million of that to buy back some of its 10.5% senior subordinated notes due 2014. During Q1 Barrington spent $11.6 million to buy back $67.8 million face value of those notes.