TV purchase puts Young at a loss

Operating income about flat

NEW YORK — Young Broadcasting swung to a net loss of $32 million for the first quarter from a $10 million profit the year before, due in large part to costs associated with its purchase of San Francisco’s KRON-TV last June, the company said Tuesday.

Operating income was about flat at $11.8 million.

The acquisition boosted revenue by 28% to $93 million. Pro forma, assuming Young owned KRON last year as well, revenue fell 15% and cash flow fell 34%.

Wall Streeters said the company, which also owns big Los Angeles indie station KCAL, was squeezed by its exposure to a weak L.A. market. They also cited tough comparisons with political ad spend the year before and a dip in dot-com advertising at NBC affil KRON.

Station’s affiliation pact with NBC runs out next year.

Young owns two NBC, three CBS and six ABC affils plus KCAL, a station that is lucky a writers strike was averted, said chairman Vincent Young, since a work stoppage that risked decimating the local economy “would have been a more crippling event than I really understood.”

He said Young is finding that national, not local, advertising is the weak spot.

Young execs said they expect second-quarter revenue and broadcast cash flow to fall 8% to 11%. The figures were $113 million and $53 million, respectively, in 2000.