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Station Revenues Anemic in '07

TV-station revenues were $22.2 billion in 2007, down $500 million (2%) from $22.7 billion in 2006, according to BIA Financial Network's Investing in Television report.

But the picture looks brighter for 2008, with an estimated average 11.5% boost—a 10-year high if the prediction is accurate, BIA said—led by election spending. The financial and strategic advisory firm says revenue increases could be even higher in the most contested states, which BIA says includes Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Maine, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado and California.

BIA's report says there were 294 stations sold for an estimated $4.6 billion in 2007. That number includes both sales that closed and were proposed (no sale is done until the FCC approves it).

The number of station transactions was up from the 202 sold in 2006, but the total dollar volume was only one-quarter of the $18.1 billion in sales in 2006, BIA said.

The 2006 figure was largely accounted for by the $12.3 billion sale of Univision Communications to an investor group led by Haim Saban.

The top announced sale in 2007 was News Corp.'s proposed $1.1 billion sale of eight TV stations, in Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Kansas City and Milwaukee, to Oak Hill Capital Partners.

"Despite the constant buzz of new-media alternatives, television will prove itself to be a hot medium in 2008 not only because it's fail-safe, but because it delivers viewers in a very targeted, local way," BIA VP Mark Fratrik said in announcing the report.

But station revenue has definitely fallen into a feast-or-famine cycle, with the good times coming in election years.

After the boom year BIA expects in 2008, it predicts station revenues will be down 3% in 2009, then up 8% in 2010 and down 1.4% again in 2011.