Local news is ace in the hole for LIN


Q1 revenues were up 1% for LIN TV, and while that would have been down 3% if you exclude political advertising, CEO Vincent Sadusky notes that his company’s stations outperformed their markets and gained share. Q2 is also expected to be up a bit, thanks to political, but long-term Sadusky is pointing to local news as the driver for LIN.

“After reviewing the numbers from the February sweeps, I’m more convinced than ever about the value of our local newscasts. For example, largely as a result of the writers strike, our largest market affiliate, WTNH in New Haven, saw its 10:30 pm ratings decline 35%, yet the 11:00 pm local news actually increased by 18%.”

Q1 revenues rose 1% to $93.1 million, with $3.2 million in political buys, compared to only $600,000 a year earlier. Digital revenues, including Internet ad revenues and retrans fees, doubled to $4.9 million. Operating income for the quarter was flat at $15.6 million.

Based on current pacings, which LIN noted, “reflect the challenging economic environment and market decline for both local and national advertising spending,” Q2 revenues are expected to be up 1-3% over the $101.8 million reported for Q2 2007. “All of this expected increase is attributable to projected political and digital revenue growth,” the company noted.

RBR/TVBR observation: It’s all about content, isn’t it? For the networks, it’s about hit shows and, to a lesser degree, news programming. But, at the local level, the only content most station’s produce themselves is news – but that’s the key to success. And, if anyone from the FCC is reading this, localism is what drives the business – not government mandates on how to be “local.”