Scripps gives a first peak at 2011


Presenting at the UBS 38th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference, executives of the E.W. Scripps said Q4 is coming in pretty much as predicted last month when the company reported Q3 results. And while the US economy is changing rapidly, Scripps offered its first look at what to expect in early 2011.

For Q4 Scripps is sticking with its guidance that TV ad revenue will be up 35-40%, fueled by a surge in political advertising in October. “Since November 2, when the political advertising ceased, the stations’ core business of spot advertising has remained above its 2009 levels. November was stronger than December is pacing, but the company expects local and national advertising at the stations to be up in the low-double-digit range for the two-month period,” was the update provided on Wednesday. Scripps expects the year-over-year decline in newspaper revenue, which was down 6.8% in the third quarter, to continue to moderate in the fourth quarter.

What about the year to come? Well, Scripps decided that the economy was changing to quickly to look 12 months ahead, but it did offer some early guidance on the first half of 2011.

“Despite tougher comparisons due to the rebound in local television advertising that started in December 2009, Scripps believes year-over-year television ad revenues will increase in the low- to mid-single-digit range, excluding political advertising. Expenses are likely to increase in the mid-single digits over the first six months, led by higher employee costs as the company reinstates certain benefits,” the company said in its summary of the UBS presentation.

“Several key advertising categories at our television stations are returning to 2008 levels,” said CEO Rich Boehne. “Scripps is fortunate that our financial flexibility allows us to focus during this period on improving the news product for our audiences and enhancing the marketplaces we create for our advertisers.”

The company believes trends in newspaper advertising revenues will continue through at least the first half of 2011, with year-over-year declines continuing to moderate.