Lack of political kept quarter down for Allbritton


The fiscal Q1 for Allbritton Communications ran October-December 2011, so the TV group was comping against the election-fueled numbers of the previous year. Not surprisingly, total revenues were down. In fact, they were down $5.1 million and political was down $6.8 million. So do the math and you’ll see that non-political revenues were up.
Net operating revenues for the quarter were down 8.9% to $52.6 million. “This decrease primarily reflects decreased demand for political advertising partially offset by increased subscriber fees and increased local and national advertising revenues,” the company said in an SEC filing.

Local and national advertising revenues increased 1.5% to $43.3 million. “This increase primarily reflects the prior year displacement of local and national advertisers during the peak political advertising period leading up to the November 2010 interim election. Additionally, the automotive category increased 17% during the three months ended December 31, 2011 as compared to the same period in the prior fiscal year, but this was substantially offset by continued decreases in issue-oriented advertising surrounding the legislative process and from larger, more nationally-focused advertisers,” Allbritton explained.

Political advertising revenues were only $796K for the quarter, compared to $7.6 million a year earlier.

Subscriber fees increased 17.6% to $5.8 million. “This increase was due to increases in per subscriber rates in accordance with the underlying agreements. A significant number of retransmission consent agreements, representing approximately one-half of our subscriber base, were subject to renewal effective January 1, 2012 and have been renewed at increased per subscriber rates.,” the company said.

RBR-TVBR observation: With its largest operation at ground zero for politics – WJLA-TV (ABC) Washington, DC and its regional cable 24/7 news operation, NewsChannel 8 – we can only imagine what the political ad windfall is going to total for Allbritton in this calendar year. The company also owns five smaller ABC affiliates.