However, Young Broadcasting says a sale announcement is unlikely for the San Francisco station by the time Q1 ends this month. Excluding KRON-TV (Ch. 4, MYNetworkTV), Young’s Q4 revenues were down 11.8% to 44.1 million. CEO Vincent Young preferred to focus on the Q4 number sans political, where local and national spot combined were up 2.8%. They were also up three-tenths of a percent for the full year.
“Local is our biggest growth opportunity,” said Young. He has spoken time an again in his quarterly conference calls about the company’s “Third Leg” initiative to bring in new local business. Phase one of that initiative has now yielded 25 million annually in billings and local, he noted, is up 17% over the last three years. Rather than a 60/40 split with national, local now accounts for 74% of billings at Young’s stations. The group is now launching new programs to build on that success, but he noted that it is getting harder to bring in that new business. “The competition doesn’t play dead forever,” he said.
What about KRON?
Analysts will be pouring over Young Broadcasting’s 10-K when it is filed this week to try to glean enough information to make a rough calculation of 2007 revenues and broadcast cash flow for KRON. The station, far and away the company’s largest, is now treated as a discontinued operation, to it is not included in the quarterly data, except for a line that says “Loss from discontinued operations.” KRON has always produced a net loss since Young bought it at a record price of $822.6 million in 1999, so the figure of 28.1 million for 2007 didn’t tell anyone much, except that CFO Jim Morgan said it included 17.5 million for deferred taxes. Morgan said the auction process is going along “satisfactorily” and that several potential bidders have signed non-disclosure agreements to get a look at the station’s financial details. Otherwise, he and Young refused to give any additional information about the efforts to sell KRON.
And while the effort to sell the company’s only MyNetworkTV affiliate continues, Vincent Young is upbeat on election year spending for the company’s ABC, CBS and NBC stations. Because of the political impact, the company said 2007 figures could best be compared to 2005, the last non-election year. For Young’s stations (excluding KRON) 2007 revenues were up 8.4% to 155.7 million and station operating performance grew 23.5% to 53 million.