Saga Communications reported that Q3 revenues grew 5% to $32.8 million. Both the radio and television divisions posted improved results.
Radio revenues gained 4.1% to $28.1 million and operating income was up 14.5% to $8 million. For TV, revenues were up 10.8% to $4.7 million and operating income was up 63.2% to $1.2 million.
Total operating income gained 9.6% to $7.4 million.
CFO Sam Bush told analysts that political revenues in Q3 totaled $1.1 million, up from only $239K a year earlier. Radio, including Saga’s regional networks, had $747K of political, vs. $235K a year ago, and TV got $352K, compared to $4K in Q3 2009.
Looking at Q4 pacings, Bush said October appeared to have ended with a low double digit increase, primarily due to political, “while November and December are pacing up mid to high single digits, with the expectations of finishing the months mid single digits.”
“National is good. Local is coming along – it is building for us. We’re going into fourth quarter in good shape. We look for next year at a 4% growth on the down side. It could be a little bit more than that,” Christian said of where he sees business going.
The CEO confirmed that Saga is not subscribing to Arbitron ratings in any of its markets. “The revenue numbers speak for themselves, so I guess it really hasn’t impacted us,” Christian said of going without ratings. He expressed little interest in subscribing in diary markets as Arbitron focuses increasingly on its Portable People Meter (PPM) service. “We’re having dialogs with Arbitron” about PPM, Christian said, noting that the ratings company had in recent weeks shown some interest in moves to enhance the potential of winning Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation in more PPM markets, so Saga may entertain subscribing to PPM once Arbitron has addressed what he sees as issues with the technology.