Depending on which headline you want to believe, Sinclair either had an anemic fourth quarter or a successful one in 2018.

Net income fell to $206.2 million, or $2.10 a share, from $443.5 million, or $4.32 a share.

On the other hand, October-to-December revenues jumped more than 25 percent to $893.3 million, compared with sales of $712.5 million in the last quarter of 2017.

That beat analysts’ expectations of $880 million.

That big number from 2017 included a $272 million benefit from changes in the federal tax laws. (“Thanks Trump”)

And no matter how you want to spin it, what helped put Sinclair over the top was (drum roll, please) political advertising.

And so, political advertising is at the heart of the 2020 Sinclair business plan.

Sinclair expects a record year for political advertising in 2020, with $255 million having been spent on political ads in 2018 and a number of candidates already declaring their candidacy for president.

Because, you know, politics is now just another tv reality show.

“We like our chances on political dollars,” said Sinclair EVP Steven Marks on the group’s fourth-quarter call with analysts this week. “You just look what goes on every day. [Watching politics has] become the best TV show on the planet.”
“Every other day there is somebody joining the race. It really bodes well for local broadcasters. There is going to be quite a robust fourth quarter [this year] and in 2020 we are not going to be able to get out of the way of the money. It’s going to be literally hand over fist.”

The best tv show on the planet.

Exactly what the Founders envisioned – a dead-eyed populace staring at a screen filled with over-produced 30-second helpings of mind(less) candy that bears little in the way of facts.

We’d hope for tv newsrooms to ramp up their “truth squads” to relentlessly fact check the swill that will be displacing car dealer commercials – but that might run afoul of management’s dream of bonuses for exceeding revenue expectations.

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