Yes, political advertising was down, but Sinclair Broadcast Group reported that exluding political, Q3 local ad sales were up 2.7% in Q3 and national was down 5.5%. Also, retransmission consent payments helped counteract the decline in political revenues and network comp. All in all, broadcast revenues from continuing operations were down 0.6% to 149.4 million and total revenues for the company rose 4.9% to 176.7 million, which beat both the company’s guidance and Street expectations. Analyst Christopher Ensley at Bear Stearns calculated that EBITDA was up 1.2% to 59.5 million, while he had been expecting a decline.
With increased profits and a political year on the horizon, Sinclair announced that its directors had increased the company’s annual dividend by 10 cents to 70 cents per share, a dividend rate of 5.75% based on the pre-announcement closing price.
For the current Q4, Sinclair said TV is pacing down 4.2-5.2% against last year’s politically-inflated sales. The Q4 forecast excludes WGGB-TV Springfield, MA, which is being sold for 21.2 million. In fact, that sale is set to close today.