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Net Revenue Up Slightly at Sinclair

Sinclair Broadcast Group reported net broadcast revenue from continuing operations of $150.1 million for the third quarter, up .5% from the previous third quarter’s $149.4 million. Operating income was $37.4 million for the quarter, including a $2.2 million non-cash gain on asset exchange, compared to $32.9 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Sinclair reported political revenue of $8.7 million in the third quarter, compared to $1.1 million in the third quarter 2007. Local advertising revenue was down .4% and national ad revenue ticked up .4%, compared to the third quarter last year. Automotive was down 18.2% in the quarter, due in part to “crowding out” from political ads.

Sinclair President/CEO David Smith stated: "The economic recession and financial crisis have clearly impacted advertising budgets, as indicated by the number of industry sectors that advertised less in the third quarter 2008 as compared to a year ago. Despite the decline in the core advertising business, our net broadcast revenues grew $0.7 million, of which advertising time sales were down only $0.2 million on the strength of political advertising in the quarter. Furthermore, on both a political included and excluded basis, our stations grew their local market share on average, a sales effort of which we are very proud, especially considering that we did not have the benefit of the Olympics due to having only one NBC affiliate.

Smith said he did not see an end to the economic doldrums near term, and would govern accordingly. “We are, therefore, managing as though 2009 will continue to be a difficult advertising climate. In this regard, we have already begun the process of reviewing our cost structures and initiating cost reduction measures,” he said. “In addition, we recently announced that we have scaled back our expectations for additional investments in non-television ventures in 2009. While our focus continues to be on maintaining our common stock dividend, a worsening of the economy or an unfavorable change in dividend tax rates could affect the dividend rate we pay."