Scripps: 3Q Cable Revs Up, But Scatter Softens

A top executive at Food Network and HGTV said Wednesday that he doesn't anticipate advertisers canceling orders placed for early 2009 due to the economy, but getting a final read will come over the next week.

"Today, we're bucking the trend somewhat," said John Lansing, the president of Scripps Networks, regarding performance in the current fourth quarter. "And I don't see why that wouldn't continue into the first quarter (2009), although we don't have a lot of visibility at this point."

Advertisers have options to cancel spending commitments for the January-March period, and should be alerting the company about their plans in the coming few days, Lansing said. Scripps, which also operates the Fine Living and DIY networks in addition to its two flagships, sells about 50% of its available inventory in the upfront.

While one executive at Scripps Networks Interactive (the networks' parent) said scatter pricing has softened in the current quarter, Lansing added that advertisers have still shown a certain "resiliency."

The executives spoke on a conference call to announce results in the recently completed third quarter. Ad dollars in the segment that includes Scripps' five cable networks continued to rise--up 5.4% to $236 million, with profit also jumping (5.1% to $144 million).

This month, Scripps saw the launch of Food Network Magazine, which features some of the channel's personalities. Scripps is committed to publishing six initial issues with partner Hearst.

Early next year, the Fine Living Network, now in 52 million homes, will become Nielsen-rated for the first time.

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