Radio sees dialed-down revenue in Q1

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The radio business just can't seem to catch a break.

On-air revenue for the first quarter fell 7% to $3.8 billion. Even factoring in network radio revenue, which grew 7% to $274 million, and off-air revenue (which includes online), up 15% to $388 million, revenue was down 5% to a little less than $4.5 billion.

Local spot, radio's bread and butter, slid 6% to $3.1 billion. In contrast to network radio — which is gaining favor among advertisers for its ability to split copy down to the station level — national spot is hurting, down 11% to $649 million.

The Radio Advertising Bureau, which released the estimates Thursday, did point to the number of new and returning advertisers that increased budgets in the quarter, including insurance companies (24%), specialty retail (20%), professional services (20%) and beverages (12%). But whether those categories can offset decreases in automotive and communications remains to be seen.

The RAB's figures are based on a pool of more than 100 markets as reported by accounting firm Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co.

Katy Bachman is a reporter for Mediaweek.
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