Hearst-Argyle CEO David Barrett says the tough economy is “recessionary-like for ad-driven businesses.” His company reported Q2 revenues down 5.6% to $182.1 million, with net ad sales, other than political, down 10% to $148.7 million. Political revenues were $8.5 million, up $3.6 million from a year earlier. Also, digital media revenues grew 13% to $5.7 million and retransmission consent payments were up 26% to $6.8 million.
While several of Hearst-Argyle’s mid-market stations in the "less volatile" Midwest markets are holding up well, the company noted the greatest ad weakness in its largest markets, in New England, florida and California.
Like many of its peers, Hearst-Argyle has been working to rein-in costs in the face of an economic downturn. The company reported that by focusing on cost containment and reducing capital expenditures, it has been able to maintain strong cash flow and further strengthen its balance sheet. Net debt has been reduced by $114 million on a trailing 12-month basis.
Asked how the current environment compares to past recessions, Barrett said it “feels as bad as it’s been.” But he noted that Hearst Corporation has weathered all sorts of economic cycles in its more than 120 years in the media business. Hearst Corporation has continued to be an active buyer of the TV company’s public stock and currently owns more than 81% of the outstanding stock of Hearst-Argyle.