Barrington Broadcasting CEO Jim Yager called Q4’s results a “pleasant surprise,” even though net revenues were down 14.7%, which was better than the 17.1% drop for the year. The veteran broadcaster is “cautiously optimistic,” although Barrington doesn’t provide any forward guidance to Wall Street.
Net revenues declined 14.7% in Q4 to $27.8 million, while broadcast cash flow (BCF) was down only 8.7% to $11.3 million. For all of 2009 net reveneus were down 17.1% to $99 million and BCF was down 23.2% to $31.1 million.
The revenue decline in Q4 was, predictably, mostly due to political, where groww revenues dropped 81.6% to $1.5 million. National revenues were down 11.4% to $7.2 million, but local was unchanged at $18.3 million. Other revenues grew 63.6% to $5.5 million, mostly due to higher revenues from retransmission consent agreements.
COO Chris Cornelius attributed the outperformance by local compared to national to be due, in part, to reengineering the sales operations at Barrington. The company’s stations now have two specialty areas, with local business development specialists and “skilled transactional negotiators.” Cornelius says the business development staff wrote nearly $9.1 million in new local business in 2009 – nearly double the new business put on the books in 2008. “This effort significantly increases our base of advertisers and sets the company up for strong results as the economy revives and our core advertising base rebounds,” he said.
While Barrington doesn’t provide any pacing information, CFO Warren Spector did tell analysts that revenues were up for the first two months of 2010.