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Scripps TV Revenue Down 16% in Q4

E.W. Scripps reported television station revenue of $84.7 million in the fourth quarter, a 16% decrease compared with the same quarter in 2010. But that represents an 11.4% increase when political advertising is excluded from the 2011 and 2010 totals.

Scripps reported fourth quarter consolidated revenues of $197 million, down 10.4% from the same quarter in 2010. That includes the corporation's newspaper division.

Operating expenses in the fourth quarter included $2.8 million of fees associated with the acquisition of nine television stations from McGraw-Hill Broadcasting, and restructuring costs of $3.4 million, which are primarily on the newspaper side.

"We substantially repositioned Scripps in 2011, clearing the way for improved performance in 2012, enlarging our television footprint, and enabling an aggressive rollout of new digital products and services," said Rich Boehne, Scripps president and CEO. "Late in the year, targeting holiday shoppers with new smartphones and tablets, we launched a series of paid news and weather apps that represent the next generation of market-defining digital products that we're developing. We intend to continue the evolution of these products, building out what we believe will be a valuable digital marketplace for services built upon high-quality local news content."

Scripps finalized the McGraw-Hill acquisition in December.

The group's local TV revenue was up 14% and its national was flat.

Revenue from retransmission consent agreements increased 30% year over year to $3.9 million, while digital revenue rose 21% in the quarter to $2.7 million.
Expenses for the TV station group declined 2.1% in the fourth quarter to $62.3 million. The discontinuation of Oprah Winfrey on four stations fueled a 23% reduction in programming costs.

Scripps is working to develop its own access programs to keep syndication costs in check.

Total revenue from Scripps newspapers fell 3.3% year over year to $110 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Scripps forecasts first quarter 2012 television revenues to be up more than 40%, thanks in large part to the station group's expanded footprint.