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Gray TV Revenues Rise

Thanks to the green from all of those blue- and red-state political races, Gray Television Inc. reported a whopping 22% increase in broadcasting revenues to $73.7 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, versus $60.3 million for the same quarter in 2003.

That was driven primarily by political spending, which was $12 million for the quarter vs. $1.1 million for the off-year elections in 2003. Excluding that windfall, the company's 30 TV stations' local ad revenue was still up 5%, to $39.1 million from $37.2 million.

National ad revenue was up only 1% to $17.9 million, though Gray says that was in part because political demands on local time reduced the available national inventory.

Gray attributes the non-political time increase to a better economy in general and greater demand for airtime on its stations in particular.

Gray owns primarily CBS and NBC affiliates. Both networks have done well in terms of delivering audiences to station's local newscasts with strong 10 p.m. shows including the several CSI's and Law & Order's.

For the first nine months, broadcast revenues were up 17% to $206.8 million, with political revenues constituting $20.9 million, or about 10% of the total (from $3.4 million for the first nine months of 2003). Excluding political, local ad revenue was up 9% to $118.4 million and national was up 2% to $52.9 million, again attributed to the reduced inventory.