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LIN TV Corp. (TVL)

Q1 2008 Earnings Call

May 8, 2008 8:30 am ET

Executives

Vincent L. Sadusky – President, Chief Executive Officer, Treasurer & Director

Bart W. Catalane – Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President

Scott M. Blumenthal – Executive Vice President of Television.

Analysts

Victor B. Miller - Bear Stearns & Co.

Marci Ryvicker - Wachovia Securities

Kit Spring - Stifel Nicolaus & Company, Inc.

[John Cornrich - Sandler]

[Shabib Sedoni] - Claren Road Asset Management

Presentation

Operator

Welcome to LIN TV Corp's earnings call for the first quarter that ended March 31, 2008. (Operator Instructions) Before we introduce today's speakers I will read a brief legal statement from the company.

This conference call may include statements that constitute forward-looking statements particularly in the area described as business outlook but also including any other statements of future business prospects or financial results including but not limited to the use of words like believe, expect, estimate, project, or other similar expressions.

These forward-looking statements are subject to various risks, uncertainties and assumptions which may cause these expectations and assumptions not to occur and differ materially from those outcomes projected in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to the potential deterioration of national and/or local economies, global or local events that could disrupt TV broadcasting, softening of the domestic advertising market, further consolidation of national and local advertisers, and the national sales representation market.

Risks associated with acquisitions including integration of acquired businesses, changes in TV viewing patterns, ratings and commercial viewing measurement, the execution and timing of retransmission consent agreements relating to digital revenues, increases in news and syndicated programming costs, and capital expenditures, changes in television network affiliated agreements, changes in government regulation, competition, seasonality, restrictions on our operations as a result of our indebtedness, effects of complying with accounting standards, effects of our control of relationships including the control of HM Capital Partners LLC and its affiliates and other risks described in the company's Annual Report on Form 10K and other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission which are available on the company's web site www.LINTV.com in the Investor Relations section or at www.SEC.gov, which discussions are incorporated in the earnings press release by reference.

LIN TV takes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise unless otherwise required to by applicable law.

At this time I'll turn the call over to LIN TV's President & Chief Executive Officer, Vincent Sadusky.

Vincent L. Sadusky

Welcome to LIN TV's 2008 first quarter conference call. I'll start with an overview of our first quarter results as well as digital and interactive highlights, and then I'll provide some current trend observations. Scott Blumenthal, our Vice President of Television, will update you about station ratings and operations, and finally, Bart Catalane, our Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, will provide first quarter financial information and close with our current 2008 business outlook. After that we'll be happy to take your questions.

Given the current economic slowdown we were pleased to grow net revenue by 1% in the first quarter of 2008. Included in this result, LIN TV's political revenues grew by $2.6 million or 432% and digital revenues increased by $2.4 million or 100% from the first quarter in 2007.

These factors together with $3.6 million of lower cash interest expense due to our debt reduction over the last year led to a $2.5 million increase in income from continuing operations. These are outstanding achievements for the company and highlight the strength of our local station's newscasts and our success in continuing to grow digital revenue streams. The current economic slowdown has impacted our markets.

As a result our local and national advertising revenues, excluding political, decreased 3% in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the same quarter last year. The impact was most significant in the housing, automotive, and retail segments. However, despite the core advertising revenue decline our results were better than our local markets and among the best in our industry as a result of continuing to grow share. Scott will talk more about the major drivers of that growth in a few moments.

As I mentioned during our last conference call our political revenues in the beginning of the year are motivated by market specific primaries and local races and issues. Several of our markets including Austin, Indianapolis, Providence, Green Bay, Dayton, Albuquerque, and New Haven have benefited from the presidential primaries and as a result, our political advertising revenues increased $2.6 million in the first quarter of 2008. We look forward to capitalizing on what should be a robust political advertising market over the next several quarters.

Looking forward, the current economic slowdown and poor condition of the debt markets have caused us to focus more than ever on operations. We were fortunate to have sold non-strategic assets over the past year and used the proceeds to pay down debt. Our response to the market slowdown has been to focus on the fundamentals of selling, increasing new business development efforts, and enhancing our training and communications.

Just two weeks ago we had a terrific local sales manager strategy session where we provided training and shared best practices centered around selling better, bringing new advertisers to TV, and providing our teams with the tools to help our advertisers make the right marketing decisions during these difficult times. We also held an Internet strategy session and as I looked around the room there were many new faces to LIN with an amazing amount of diverse interactive experience with TV, print and other media. Our goal is to emerge from the current economic cycle as a more focused and effective local sales and content media company and be the trusted marketing and sales advisor to businesses in our markets.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com