Revenues were up 5.4% at Journal Communication’s broadcast properties, and operating earnings were up 12.3%. But a loss of 9% on the publishing side produced a drop in operating earnings approaching 60%, leading to overall Q1 2012 results of -1.9% in total earnings and -4.5% in operating earnings.
Broadcast revenue rose from $42.1M to $44.4M, and operating earnings from $6M to $6.7M, contrasting the direction publishing headed – suffering a decline in revenue from $41.8M to $38M and a decline in operating earnings from $1.8M to $700K.
Journal highlighted a pair of developments on the broadcast side.The company stated, “First, we are pleased that our Milwaukee 620 AM WTMJ radio station extended its longstanding radio rights agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers. In addition, we reached a long-term agreement to originate the Green Bay Packers preseason television network.”
Journal added, “In March we announced an agreement to purchase two FM radio stations in Tulsa, OK from Renda Broadcasting Corporation for $11.8 million, subject to FCC approval. We believe the addition of these stations to our existing Tulsa radio cluster will create a stronger group that will better serve our listeners, customers and the entire Tulsa community. This transaction is consistent with one of our strategic goals of creating additional scale in existing Journal Broadcast Group markets.”
On the broadcast side, Journal said that core local advertising, excluding political, was up 1.6% and credited an increase in auto as a driver. National jumped 18.1%, again exluding political, driven by the communications category. The company also enjoyed a $500K increase in retransmission fees to $2.3M.
Television revenue rose 7.5% to $29.5M, including a $400K increase in political to $1.2M. Automotive drove non-political local up 2.6%.
Radio revenue increased 1.5% to $14.9M, with political flat at $100K. Earnings rose an impressive 29.2% to $2.9M.
Looking ahead, the company is expecting high double-digit increases on the broadcast side in Q2. It is benefitting from its strong presence in Milwaukee, in the great state of Wisconsin, which is still attracting political cash related to its ongoing series of recall elections.