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Sinclair Revenue Down 18%

Sinclair Broadcast Group reported first quarter net broadcast revenue of $131.3 million, down 18.4% from the same quarter a year before. The company had an operating loss of $106.7 million in the three-month period, as compared to operating income of $46.2 million in the prior year period.

Sinclair President/CEO David Smith said to expect a similar story in the second quarter. "While first quarter net broadcast revenues exceeded our guidance, we are still not seeing any meaningful improvements in the economy or increased visibility on the revenue side in the second quarter," he said. "As such, our expectation is for net broadcast revenues in the second quarter to finish down by high teen percents, similar to our first quarter results.

Additionally, it is unclear how Chrysler's bankruptcy and a potential filing by General Motors will affect our business in 2009."

Smith said the company would continue to trim costs. "We continue to be disciplined on the cost side and look for additional ways to offset the declines in revenues," he said. "First quarter television station operating expenses, which were down 10.4%, was largely due to the cost cutting measures we implemented in the fourth quarter of 2008."

Sinclair reported local ad revenue down 18.3% in the quarter, and national down 31.3%. Time sales on the group's stations looked like this: Fox, ABC, MyNetworkTV, CW, CBS and NBC stations were down 25.1%, 24.8%, 15.9%, 21.7%, 12.3% and 18.4% in the first quarter, respectively.

Sinclair owns, operates, or provides services to 58 stations, including 20 Fox outlets and 17 MyNetworkTVs.