“Television is still the dominant media and still growing stronger,” said LIN honcho Vincent Sandusky. He was able to paint a picture of his own television company, which was at least able to tread water during a very difficult year.
Net 2008 revenues of $399.8M amounted to a 1% gain over 2007’s final tally as the company overcame a rough patch in Q4 during which they lost -4%. But the company is bracing for 2009, when there will be no repeat of last year’s robust political spending. Political accounted for $47M, which represented a 40% same-station increase over the 2004, the previous presidential election year. $24.4M of that total came in Q4. The company also increased internet and retransmission fees for a total of $29.1M compared to $14.9M in 2007. The bad news was in the traditional combined national/local advertising, down 11% to $368.6M
LIN’s plans going forward involve belt-tightening and efficiency initiatives. It plans to increase synergies between over-air and over-internet journalism operations, and is turning journalists into multitask experts who can report and handle a camera and editing equipment from the field. LIN execs also noted that even though advertisers seemed to be cutting budgets, other categories were being lopped off. The noted television was included on many media plans along with smatterings of radio and internet. That said, it’s expecting double-digit losses, as high as -20%, in Q1 with losses ranging between -7% and -11% for the year.
The company noted down Q4 categories, which included automotive, retail, restaurants, media/telecommunications, services, financial services and entertainment. On the upside were political, home improvement and travel and leisure. The big story was automotive, down -40% in Q4.
RBR/TVBR observation: LIN is putting a lot of focus on its internet operations, and making sure it is fully integrated with its core television assets. Good move.