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Sinclair Reports Higher Fourth-Quarter Profits

Sinclair Broadcast Group reported higher profits for the fourth quarter as revenues for political and digital increased.

Net income rose to $120.9 million, or $1.32 a share, from $58.2 million, or 61 cents, a year ago.

Revenues rose 30.4% to $797.7 million.

The results were slightly below Wall Street forecasts because while political spening rose, it was less than Sinclair expected.

Sinclair said its media revenues were up 33% to $726.7 million and that political revenues totaled $113.2 million in the quarter, versus $11.8 million a year ago.

Digital revenues were up 21%.

"2017 is off to a productive start with the launch of two emerging multicast networks, TBD and Charge!!, which join our already successful multicast network, Comet," said CEO Chris Ripley. "Our other platforms continue to grow with increased distribution of Tennis Channel and double digit percent growth in our digital revenues. In addition, the auction proceeds will provide us additional optionality to further grow the Company and create value for our shareholders."

The company said that it expects first-quarter media revenue to be up 13% to 14% to between $602 million and $606.7 million. That’s despite a drop in political ad revenues.

Sinclair previously announced that it expect to receive $313 million of gross proceeds from that spectrum auction later this year.

"With the spectrum auction coming to an end and the potential for deregulation on the horizon, we expect 2017 to be a pivotal year for Sinclair and the broadcast industry," said executive chairman David Smith.

"Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission is in process of conducting a rulemaking proceeding for the use of ATSC 3.0 (the Next Generation Broadcast Standard), which we expect will result in its approval later this year,” Smith said. “The new technology is expected to revolutionize the broadcast industry and provide for new business opportunities, products and services. We anticipate the long-awaited deregulation of the industry's antiquated rules and the end of the spectrum quiet period to spur consolidation; a positive given that our industry has been prohibited from competing on a level playing field with other forms of media.”

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.