Sinclair Records Q4 Core Ad Declines, Political Ads Hit All-Time High

Sinclair Broadcast Group is another major TV station company hit with weakening core advertising in the last months of 2020 -- due to COVID-19 pandemic-related issues and political ad preemptions.

Nonpolitical, core advertising was $349 million versus $433 million in the year-before period for all its TV stations and regional sports networks businesses in the fourth quarter.

Political advertising -- due to the presidential election year -- came in at $205 million versus $23 million in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Total advertising for the period was $554 million versus $456 million in  fourth-quarter 2019.

On Tuesday, another big TV station group, Nexstar Media Group, said core advertising revenues in the fourth quarter were down due to preemptions for political advertising.

Chris Ripley, president-CEO of Sinclair, stated: “Record political ad spending helped offset weakness in core advertising caused by the pandemic.” He added core advertising has been witnessing “improvement” in the fourth quarter.

Distribution revenues declined to $917 million versus $1.1 billion in the year-before period.

The regional sports networks business -- which Sinclair now calls Local Sports -- witnessed lower fees, partly due to pandemic-related sports scheduling disruptions -- $513 million down versus $724 million in the prior-year period.

Broadcast distribution revenue was up slightly to $355 million from $347 million.

Overall revenue sank 7% to $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter versus the same period a year ago.

While Q4 net income was up to $514 million from $88 million a year ago, it registered a full 2020 year loss of $2.4 billion, due to a big write-down of its somewhat troubled regional sports network unit -- a $4.3 billion “non-cash impairment” charge.

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