9% Revenue Dip at Hearst-Argyle TV

NEW YORK Even Hearst-Argyle Television’s record $93 million in political advertising and a 24.4 percent increase in retransmission consent fees couldn’t offset a 9 percent drop in fourth-quarter revenue to $197.1 million. For the year, revenue declined 4.7 percent to $720.5 million.

In addition to the recession, the TV group, which reported its Q4 and year-end earnings Wednesday, attributed the revenue drop to decreased spending among several major ad categories including automotive, retail, telecommunications, movies, restaurants, health services and furniture.

“Unfortunately, depressed local economies in our largest markets and states such as California and Florida, and further significant declines in auto spending and other recession-sensitive categories, outweighed our political and retransmission gains. Digital revenue, which got off to a strong start earlier in the year, was also affected by recessionary conditions, and were flat…due to fourth-quarter weakness,” said David Barrett, president and CEO of Hearst-Argyle.

Like other TV companies, Hearst-Argyle has been battered by declining ad revenue and the continued brutal economy. These factors have forced almost all media players to trim costs and staff; H-A, for example, eliminating 200 positions last year.