The fiscal first quarter for Allbritton Communications is calendar Q4 for most other companies, so that October-December period included the final rush of campaign advertising. Net revenues for the company were up 4.5% to $57.7 million.
Allbritton also had a different situation than most of its peers, since it had lots of political revenues a year earlier from the gubernatorial election in Virginia. The company’s biggest market is Washington, DC and its Virginia-Maryland suburbs. So political more than doubled, from $3.1 million to $6.7 million, but didn’t gain as much on a percentage basis as reported by other broadcasters who had very little political advertising in calendar 2009.
Local and national ad revenues were down 6% for the quarter to $42.7 million. “This decrease was primarily due to significantly less demand for issue-oriented advertising surrounding the legislative process during the current period as well as the displacement of local and national advertisers during the peak political advertising period leading up to the November 2010 interim election. Notwithstanding this overall decrease, automotive related advertising increased 22% during the three months ended December 31, 2010 as compared to the same period in the prior fiscal year,” Allbritton said in its quarterly SEC filing. The company is privately owned, but has publicly traded bonds.
Allbritton reported that subscriber fees were up 12.1% to $5 million. That includes both retransmission consent payments and cable fees for carriage of its 24/7 local NewsChannel 8 in the DC market, where it also owns WJLA-TV (ABC).
Operating income for the quarter declined 2% to $24.4 million as operating expenses increased 9.8%.