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Political Ads Help Scripps Post Profit in Third Quarter

The E.W. Scripps Co. swung to a third quarter profit as revenues were boosted by local political ad sales revenue from Katz Broadcasting, acquired a year ago.

Income from continuing operations was $20 million, or 24 cents per share, compared to a loss of $27.6 million, or 34 cents per share.

Revenue rose 51% to $303 million.

Political advertising this year totaled $140 million, up 86% from the previous midterm election cycle.

Related: Scripps to Acquire 15 Stations from Cordillera

Profit for Scripps’ Local Media segment doubled to $67.4 million from $30.4 million a year ago.

Local Media revenue was up 23% to $231 million. Retrans revenue rose 24% to $78.8 million. Ad sales were up 25% to $40 million, though the wave of political advertising displaced other advertisers resulting in a 7.5% decline in core advertising.

National Media profits was $2.8 million, compared to a loss of $4.4 million a year ago.

Revenue from national media were $71.8 million, up from $12.5 million.

Revenue from the Katz Networks, part of national media acquired late last year, was $46.5 million, up 23% in the quarter from a year ago, driven by audience delivery growth, rising ad rates and expanded distribution.

Excluding Katz, National Media revenue doubled.

“During a quarter when we delivered terrific operating results across the board – buoyed by record-level mid-term election political revenue, we also took significant action to execute our plan to reposition the company for improved operating performance and long-term growth,” said CEO Adam Symson.

“The acquisitions of the Cordillera television portfolio and Triton, the digital audio SaaS infrastructure and measurement leader, are important moves to enhance the company’s cash-flow production and long-term value,” Symson said. “These acquisitions, alongside our consistent operating performance and disciplined approach to return of capital through the share repurchase plan and dividend, should give shareholders confidence that we are executing in a way that delivers them the results they seek.”

For the fourth quarter, Scripps said it expects local media revenue to be up in the 30% ranges and national media revenue to be in the low to mid $70 million range.