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Acme Fourth Quarter Revenue Down 14%

Acme Communications announced fourth quarter 2009 revenue of $6.8 million, a 14% decrease from the same quarter the year before. "The decrease was driven primarily by continued sharply lower advertising demand resulting in a 15% decrease in net revenues at our television stations," said Acme in a statement. Revenues from its syndicated program The Daily Buzz were flat.

Total operating costs decreased 55% to $15 million for the fourth quarter, while station cash-based operating expenses decreased 12%, primarily on reduced promotion, barter program expense and compensation expense reflecting the company's "continued efforts to reduce all discretionary costs in the face of a continued severe economic downturn."

Acme is hungry to sell its six stations. Last week, it announced a major restructuring designed to dramatically cut costs in both its front office and its stations.

Net revenues for the full 2009 decreased 19% to $26.8 million compared to 2008.

Broadcasters typically reported rough fourth quarters, with earnings looking much brighter in 2010.

"This past year was a very difficult one for the industry and for Acme," conceded Chairman Jamie Kellner, who gave up the CEO title to Doug Gealy last week. "Market conditions were challenging, especially given the competition's focused efforts to regain market share of regular business following a record political year in 2008. While we are seeing a pickup in advertiser demand in the first half of 2010, as has historically been the case, the traditional affiliates are leading the way with those gains."

Kellner said recent service deals with other broadcasters will help Acme's ailing bottom line. "We believe that our recently announced LIN Media and Fisher Communications deals will provide meaningful improvements in our operating cash flows beginning in the third quarter of 2010 and expect to continue to find creative ways to maximize shareholder value," he said.