Tegna announced that its fourth-quarter media segment revenues reached a record $529.1 million, up 14.5% over the same quarter last year.
The media group includes Tegna’s 46 broadcast television stations.
The company attributes the growth to an $80.2 million increase in political advertising and a $25.5 million increase in retransmission revenues, but notes that those increases were partially offset by a decline in core advertising due to the displacement effect of political advertising in the quarter.
The media segment operating expenses reached $292.6 million, up from $261.6 million in the year-ago quarter, thanks to higher programming fees and continued investment in growth initiatives. While opex grew, so did operating income, rising 17.9% annually to $236.5 million.
Looking ahead, Tegna expects media segment revenue in the first quarter of 2017 to be flat to slightly above the first quarter of 2016, and warned of unfavorable year-over-year comps due to substantially lower political advertising revenue and the move of the Super Bowl to Fox—for which Tegna owns three stations—from CBS—for which Tegna owns 11 stations.
“Total company revenues for both the quarter and the year were up 10%, boosted by record results across Tegna Media. Higher retransmission revenues and political spending helped Media revenues grow 14% in the fourth quarter and reach a record level. While political spending on the presidential race was lower than predicted, Tegna Media’s strong geographic footprint and increased non-presidential spending enabled the company to capture a large share of the overall broadcast political spend,” said Gracia Martore, president and chief executive officer, in a statement.
For the full year, Tegna’s total operating revenues were $3.34 billion, up 9.5% from last year because of revenue increases in the media and digital segments. Operating income totaled $972.1 million, compared to $913.2 million last year, and operating expenses rose to $2.37 billion, up 10.8% from last year.