Television had a good excuse – no election this year – and revenues were up excluding political. But there just seems to be no end to revenue declines for any company in the newspaper business, which is where the E.W. Scripps Company got its start 133 years ago this month.
Consolidated revenues for the company declined 8.6% in Q3 to $168 million. The company took a big non-cash write-down for the declining value of some of its newspaper assets, so the loss from continuing operating was $10.7 million, or 19 cents per share, compared to income of $5.4 million, or eight cents per share, a year earlier.
Television revenues were down 11% to $69.9 million – but up 17% from 2009 (the previous year without a federal election). Excluding political, revenues increased 6.5% from Q3 of 2010.
Local advertising gained 11% to $41.7 million; national was down 6.6% to $18.8 million; and political was $2.1 million, down 86% from $14.8 million last year. Retransmission consent fees increased 32% to $4 million. CEO Rich Boehne noted that Scripps is locked into retrans deals with some MVPDs for a while yet from when the company was using its broadcast assets as leverage to build its cable networks, since spun off as Scripps Network Interactive. Also in Q3, digital revenue for the TV division rose 11% to $2.2 million.
TV segment profit fell to $7.5 million from $17.7 million a year earlier.
Newspaper revenues declined 4.4% in Q3 to $96 million, with ad revenues down 7.9% to $56.5 million. Local was down 3.4% to $18.6 million; national 31% to $3.1 million; classified 10% to $18.7 million; and preprint/other 4.1% to $16.1 million.
The newspaper division is still profitable, although that segment profit was only $1.6 million in Q3, down from $6.6 million in Q3 of 2010.
Q4 is expected to look a lot like Q3. Scripps told investors to expect TV revenues to be down in the high teens, but up in the high single digits to low double digits excluding political. Newspaper revenues are expected to be down in line with the 4.4% drop seen in Q3.