But then, print at Meredith means magazines, not newspapers. TV ad revenues were down 31% in fiscal Q3 (January-March) and pacings for the current quarter are similar. Publishing, meanwhile, saw ad revenues decline only 12% in the just-reported quarter.
Retransmission consent revenues doubled for Meredith’s TV group in Q3 and are continuing to grow. Meredith Corp. CEO Steve Lacy told analysts to expect retrans fees to exceed $20 million in the next fiscal year.
But while retrans was up, ad revenues were down in the face of the nation’s severe recession. Lacy noted, though, that TV pacings had improved about one percentage point week over week in recent weeks. So, while TV ad revenues are currently pacing down 32% for fiscal Q4, at the same point in fiscal Q3 they were pacing down 40%.
TV ad revenues finished Q3 down 31% at $52 million. The biggest chunk of that was the automotive category, where ad spending fell 55%. Most other top 10 categories were also down. Lacy noted that Phoenix and Las Vegas had been particularly hard hit – two go-go growth markets that are now suffering the impact of a sharp drop in the local real estate market. Operating profits for the television group fell to $1.3 million for the quarter from $19 million a year ago.
For publishing, Q3 ad revenues declined 12% to $132 million. Total revenues were down 11% to $280 million. Operating profit fell to $48 million from $64 million.