Univision ads going steady

Notes increasing sales compared to one year ago

Univision CEO Joe Uva said Tuesday that the TV ad market appears to be stabilizing, based on current scatter market spending, but noted that it is anyone's guess when a full recovery might occur.

"We certainly don't expect the markets to be restored in the foreseeable future," he said.

Uva spoke during a conference call to discuss second-quarter earnings. For the period ended June 30, Univision reported a 4% revenue decline to $520 million, with a net loss of $30 million. For the same period a year ago, the company reported a net loss of $101 million. CFO Andrew Hobson noted that results will continue to improve in the third quarter.

Uva reported that Univision's upfront market is still in its early stages, with only a handful of deals completed, and said it's too early to make any reliable projections on total upfront take or pricing. But he did say that Univision appears to be "outpacing results" of the English-language broadcasters; they have dropped prices by percentages ranging from the mid- to low-single digit range.

Categories where spending has improved recently include packaged goods, quick-service restaurants and telecommunications, Hobson reported. There is not a lot of movement in the auto category. "Everybody is waiting for the General Motors shoe to drop," Uva said.

Generally, Uva said, advertisers have been making commitments much closer to air and print dates, making it tougher to make mid- and longer-term projections.

"I don't know that that pattern will ever go back because advertisers have gotten used to managing their media spend that way," he said.

TV revenue for the second quarter was basically flat at $414 million. The company said that advertising was down while retransmission consent fees from cable, telco and satellite operators were up. Uva said the company would tally about $175 million in retrans fees in 2009 but average $350 million in such annual fees in the next three to five years.

Radio revenue dropped 19% to $95 million and digital revenue dipped 2% to $10 million, both because of advertising declines.