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Biz Briefs

Jul 31, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Court TV Sales Chief Departs Amid Layoffs

Charlie Collier, executive VP and general manager of ad sales at Court TV, is leaving amid another round of layoffs at the network, which was acquired by Time Warner in May for $735 million. About a dozen staffers were affected in this round of layoffs, including senior managers in the network’s human resources and legal departments. Ad sales, legal and human relations chores will be handled by the staffs at TW’s Turner Broadcasting. Court TV now reports to Turner. In June, about 50 staffers in affiliate relations, corporate communications, finance and accounting were let go as Turner eliminated job redundancies and cut costs. Turner Broadcasting has about 30 ad sales position open, and Court TV ad sales staffers have been asked to apply for those posts. Mr. Collier, best known for pushing Court TV as an industry leader in making ad deals based on viewer engagement, is said to be discussing a senior executive post at several companies, including Rainbow Media, where he worked earlier in his career. Before joining Court TV, Mr. Collier was head of ad sales for Oxygen.

-JON LAFAYETTE



Hearst-Argyle Profit Declines

Hearst-Argyle Television, which owns 25 TV stations, posted lower second-quarter profit after tax costs rose. Revenue increased 3 percent on more political advertising sales. Net income fell 62 percent to $25 million, the company said Thursday in a statement. Revenue increased to $193.9 million compared with $188.5 million a year earlier as advertising and digital sales increased along with cable retransmission income. Hearst-Argyle took in less compensation from networks, and automobile advertising plunged. Political-ad revenue rose more than fivefold to $12.9 million. The stations recorded increases in the retail, telecommunications, financial, attractions, and furniture advertising categories. The automotive category, which represented 27 percent of gross advertising sales, declined 11 percent. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization declined 6 percent in the quarter to $72.7 million from $77 million in the second quarter due to higher operating expenses and the recognition of stock-based compensation. The station group announced earnings per diluted share of $0.27 for the quarter compared with $0.68 per share a year ago, when Hearst-Argyle benefited from the tax settlement. Current period results reflect $2 million of new stock-based compensation expense, which represented $0.01 per share on an after-tax basis.

-MICHELE GREPPI



LIN Buying 2nd Albuquerque Station

LIN TV has agreed to by KASA-TV, the Fox affiliate in Albuquerque, N.M., from Raycom Media for $55 million in cash. The announcement said that even though the deal is not expected to close until the fourth quarter of 2006, LIN TV will take over operations of the station under a local management agreement that takes effect Aug. 31. LIN recently acquired CBS-affiliated KRQE-TV in Albuquerque, the 46th-largest TV market in the country. The KASA deal will bring to 10 the number of markets in which LIN operates two or more stations.

-MICHELE GREPPI



Meredith Stations Post Profit

Strong gains in local advertising spending in a non-political quarter were credited with boosting Meredith Broadcasting’s fortunes in the Meredith Corp.’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings reported Wednesday. Meredith said operating profit rose 21 percent to $29 million and EBITDA rose 17 percent to $35 million in the quarter and that total revenues grew 9 percent to $87 million. For fiscal 2006, the station group’s operating profit and EBITDA increased 2 percent to $88 million and $112 million, respectively. The EBITDA margin improved to 35.3 percent from 35.2 percent. Revenues increased 2 percent to $319 million as a result of the stations successfully replacing $19 million in net political advertising revenues. The station group includes 14 TV stations and one radio station.

-MICHELE GREPPI



Martha Stewart Narrows Loss

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia narrowed its loss in the second quarter, beating analysts’ estimates after revenue surged on higher advertising sales at the company’s broadcast business, flagship magazine and on the Web. The company also declared a one-time dividend of 50 cents per share, 16 months after its famed founder finished her five-month prison term for lying to federal investigators. Shares surged Wednesday after the company reported a net loss of $8 million, compared with a loss of $52.7 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 47 percent to $67.4 million, compared with $46 million a year earlier, and was driven by the company’s publishing and Internet businesses. The company’s broadcast business’s sales rose to $11.8 million from $1.8 million a year earlier, helped by revenue from the syndicated TV show “Martha,” and the Martha Stewart Living Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio. The company said the daily syndicated show is registering “solid gains” in the price it charges for advertising time. Operating loss for the second quarter decreased to $1.8 million, compared with $34.2 million for the second quarter of 2005. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization totaled $3.2 million, compared with an adjusted EBITDA loss of $11.2 million for the second quarter of 2005. “Our second-quarter results confirm that the company is on very strong footing,” President and CEO Susan Lyne said in a statement. “Publishing and Internet delivered significant increases in advertising revenue, while broadcasting performed well and was a strong driver of demand for our brand.”

-MICHELE GREPPI