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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

Form 10-K

(Mark one)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023

or

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from_________________________ to_______________________________

Commission file number 1-11588

SAGA COMMUNICATIONS, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Florida

 

38-3042953

(State or other jurisdiction of

 

(I.R.S. Employer

incorporation or organization)

 

Identification No.)

73 Kercheval Avenue

 

 

Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan

 

48236

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:

(313886-7070

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbol

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Class A Common Stock, $.01 par value

SGA

 

NASDAQ Global Market

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes      No 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes      No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes      No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).  Yes      No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer
  

 

Accelerated
filer
 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

Smaller Reporting
Company 

 

Emerging growth company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by checkmark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to § 240.10D-1(b).

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes      No 

On June 30, 2023 the aggregate market value of the shares of Class A Common Stock held by nonaffiliates of the registrant, computed on the basis of the closing stock price of the Class A Common Stock on the NASDAQ was $81,896,718.

The number of shares of the registrant’s Class A Common Stock, $.01 par value outstanding as of March 2, 2024 was 6,263,236.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders (to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after the end of the Company’s fiscal year) are incorporated by reference in Part III hereof.

Saga Communications, Inc.

2023 Form 10-K Annual Report

Table of Contents

 

 

Page

 

 

 

PART I

Item 1.

Business

4

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

23

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

30

Item 1C.

Cybersecurity

31

Item 2.

Properties

32

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

32

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

32

 

PART II

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

32

Item 6.

[Reserved]

33

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

34

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

45

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

45

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

45

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

46

Item 9B.

Other Information

48

Item 9C.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspection

48

 

PART III

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

48

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

48

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Shareholder Matters

48

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

48

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

48

 

PART IV

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

49

Signatures

88

2

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements contained in this Form 10-K that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In addition, words such as “will,” “may,” “believes,” “intends,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “estimates,” “guidance,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are made as of the date of this report or as otherwise indicated, based on current expectations. We undertake no obligation to update this information. A number of important factors could cause our actual results for 2023 and beyond to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements made by or on our behalf. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance as they involve a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions that may prove to be incorrect and that may cause our actual results and experiences to differ materially from the anticipated results or other expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements. The risks, uncertainties and assumptions that may affect our performance, which are described in Item 1A of this report, include our financial leverage and debt service requirements, dependence on key personnel, dependence on key stations and advertising revenue they generate, global, U.S. and local economic conditions, including the effects of inflation, our ability to successfully integrate acquired stations, regulatory requirements including royalties we pay, new technologies, health epidemics, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, information technology and cybersecurity failures and data security breaches. We cannot be sure that we will be able to anticipate or respond timely to changes in any of these factors, which could adversely affect the operating results in one or more fiscal quarters. Results of operations in any past period should not be considered, in and of itself, indicative of the results to be expected for future periods. Fluctuations in operating results may also result in fluctuations in the price of our stock.

3

PART I

Item 1.     Business

We are a media company primarily engaged in acquiring, developing and operating broadcast properties including opportunities complimentary to our core radio business including digital, e-commerce and non-traditional revenue initiatives. As of February 29, 2024, we owned seventy-nine FM, thirty-three AM radio stations and eighty metro signals serving twenty-seven markets. Our principal executive offices are located at 73 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan 48236. We are a Florida corporation, reorganized in 2020. We were originally organized as a Delaware corporation in 1986.

During 2022, our founder and former Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), Edward K. Christian passed away. As of the date of his passing, Mr. Christian held approximately 65% of the combined voting power of the Company’s Common Stock. His passing resulted in the conversion of his Class B Shares into Class A Shares that were transferred to an estate planning trust that now owns approximately 16% of the common stock outstanding. We were also required to make certain payments to his estate as outlined in his employment agreement.

Strategy

Our strategy is to operate top billing radio stations, including opportunities complimentary to our core radio business including digital, e-commerce and non-traditional revenue initiatives, in mid-sized markets, which we define as markets ranked from 20 to 200 out of the markets summarized by Investing in Radio Market Report.

Local programming and marketing are key components in our strategy to achieve top ratings in our radio operations. In many of our markets, the three or four most highly rated radio stations receive a disproportionately high share of the market’s advertising revenues. As a result, a station’s revenue is dependent upon its ability to maximize its number of listeners within an advertiser’s given demographic parameters. In certain cases we use attributes other than specific market listener data for sales activities. We also use our strong local presence and community involvement to develop strong relationships with our listeners, advertising clients and community organizations.

The radio stations that we own and/or operate employ a variety of programming formats, including Classic Hits, Country, Classic Country, Hot/Soft/Urban Adult Contemporary, Oldies, Classic Rock, Rock and News/Talk. We regularly perform extensive market research, including music evaluations, focus groups and strategic vulnerability studies. Our stations also employ audience promotions to further develop and secure a loyal following.

We concentrate on the development of strong decentralized local management, which is responsible for the day-to-day operations, including local community development, of the stations we own and/or operate. We compensate local management based on the station’s financial performance, as well as other performance factors that are deemed to affect the long-term ability of the stations to serve their local communities and to achieve financial performance objectives. Corporate management is responsible for long-range planning, establishing policies and procedures, resource allocation and monitoring the activities of the stations.

Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (the “Telecommunications Act”), we are permitted to own up to eight radio stations in a single market. See “Federal Regulation of Radio Broadcasting”. We seek to acquire reasonably priced broadcast properties with significant growth potential that are located in markets with well-established and relatively stable economies. We often focus on local economies supported by a strong presence of state or federal government or one or more major universities. Future acquisitions will be subject to the availability of financing, the terms of our credit facility, and compliance with the Communications Act of 1934 (the “Communications Act”) and Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) rules.

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Advertising Sales

Our primary source of revenue is from the sale of advertising for broadcast on our stations. Depending on the format of a particular radio station, there are a predetermined number of advertisements broadcast each hour. We determine the number of advertisements broadcast hourly that can maximize a station’s available revenue dollars without jeopardizing listening levels. While there may be shifts from time to time in the number of advertisements broadcast during a particular time of the day, the total number of advertisements broadcast on a particular station generally does not vary significantly from year to year. Any change in our revenue, with the exception of those instances where stations are acquired or sold, is generally the result of pricing adjustments, which are made to ensure that the station efficiently utilizes available inventory.

Advertising rates charged by radio stations are based primarily on a station’s ability to attract audiences in the demographic groups targeted by advertisers, the number of stations in the market competing for the same demographic group, the supply of and demand for radio advertising time, and other qualitative factors including rates charged by competing radio stations within a given market. Radio rates are generally highest during morning and afternoon drive-time hours. Most advertising contracts are short-term, generally running for only a few weeks. This allows broadcasters the ability to modify advertising rates as dictated by changes in station ownership within a market, changes in listener ratings and changes in the business climate within a particular market.

Approximately $108,509,000 or 90% of our gross revenue for the year ended December 31, 2023 (approximately $108,999,000 or 89% in fiscal 2022 and approximately $102,367,000 or 89% in fiscal 2021) was generated from the sale of local advertising. Additional revenue is generated from the sale of national advertising, network compensation payments, barter and other miscellaneous transactions. In all of our markets, we attempt to maintain a local sales force that is generally larger than our competitors. The principal goal in our sales efforts is to develop long-standing customer relationships through frequent direct contacts, which we believe represents a competitive advantage. We also typically provide incentives to our sales staff to seek out new opportunities resulting in the establishment of new client relationships, as well as new sources of revenue, not directly associated with the sale of broadcast time.

Each of our stations also engages independent national sales representatives to assist us in obtaining national advertising revenues. These representatives obtain advertising through national advertising agencies and receive a commission from us based on our net revenue from the advertising obtained. Total gross revenue resulting from national advertising in fiscal 2023 was approximately $11,880,000 or 10% of our gross revenue (approximately $13,657,000 or 11% in fiscal 2022 and approximately $13,138,000 or 11% in fiscal 2021). Gross national political revenue is included in these numbers.

Competition

Radio broadcasting is a highly competitive business. Our stations compete for listeners and advertising revenues directly with other radio stations, as well as other media, within their markets. Our radio stations compete for listeners primarily on the basis of program content and by employing on-air talent which appeals to a particular demographic group. By building a strong listener base comprised of a specific demographic group in each of our markets, we are able to attract advertisers seeking to reach these listeners.

Other media, including broadcast television and/or radio (as applicable), cable television, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, the Internet, coupons and billboard advertising, also compete with us for advertising revenues.

The radio broadcasting industry is also subject to competition from new media technologies, such as the delivery of audio programming by cable and satellite television systems, satellite radio systems, direct reception from satellites, and streaming of audio on the Internet.

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Seasonality

Our revenue varies throughout the year. Advertising expenditures, our primary source of revenue, is generally lowest in the first quarter.

Environmental Compliance

As the owner, lessee or operator of various real properties and facilities, we are subject to various federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations. Historically, compliance with these laws and regulations has not had a material adverse effect on our business. There can be no assurance, however, that compliance with existing or new environmental laws and regulations will not require us to make significant expenditures of funds.

Human Capital Resources

Our key human capital management objectives are to attract, develop and retain top industry talent that reflects the diversity of the communities in which we broadcast. To support this goal, our human resources programs are designed to develop talent to prepare for key roles and leadership positions for the future; reward employees through competitive industry pay, benefits and other programs, instill our culture with a focus on ethical behavior and enhance our employees’ performance through investment in current technology, tools and training to enable our employees to operate at a high level.

As of December 31, 2023, we had approximately 589 full-time employees and 244 part-time employees, none of whom are represented by unions. We believe that our relations with our employees are good.

We employ several high-profile personalities with large loyal audiences in their respective markets. We have entered into employment and non-competition agreements with our President and with most of our on-air personalities, as well as non-competition agreements with our commissioned sales representatives.

We are committed to hiring, developing and supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace. Our management teams are expected to exhibit and promote honest, ethical and respectful conduct in the workplace. All of our employees must adhere to a code of conduct that sets standards for appropriate ethical behavior.

Available Information

You can find more information about us at our Internet website www.sagacom.com. Our Annual Report on Form 10-K, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our Current Reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports are available free of charge on our Internet website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

Federal Regulation of Radio Broadcasting

Introduction.   The ownership, operation and sale of radio stations, including those licensed to us, are subject to the jurisdiction of the FCC, which acts under authority granted by the Communications Act. Among other things, the FCC assigns frequency bands for broadcasting; determines the particular frequencies, locations and operating power of stations; issues, renews, revokes and modifies station licenses; determines whether to approve changes in ownership or control of station licenses; regulates equipment used by stations; adopts and implements regulations and policies that directly or indirectly affect the ownership, operation and employment practices of stations; and has the power to impose penalties for violations of its rules or the Communications Act. For additional information on the impact of FCC regulations and the introduction of new technologies on our operations, see “Forward Looking Statements” and “Risk Factors” contained elsewhere in this report.

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The following is a brief summary of certain provisions of the Communications Act and of specific FCC regulations and policies. Reference should be made to the Communications Act, FCC rules (Title 47 Code of Federal Regulation, Chapter I, Subchapters A and C) and the public notices and rulings of the FCC for further information concerning the nature and extent of federal regulation of broadcast stations.

License Renewal.   Radio broadcasting licenses are granted for maximum terms of eight years, and are subject to renewal upon application to the FCC. Under its “two-step” renewal process, the FCC must grant a renewal application if it finds that during the preceding term the licensee has served the public interest, convenience and necessity, and there have been no serious violations of the Communications Act or the FCC’s rules which, taken together, would constitute a pattern of abuse. If a renewal applicant fails to meet these standards, the FCC may either deny its application or grant the application on such terms and conditions as are appropriate, including renewal for less than the full 8-year term. In making the determination of whether to renew the license, the FCC may not consider whether the public interest would be served by the grant of a license to a person other than the renewal applicant. If the FCC, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, finds that the licensee has failed to meet the requirements for renewal and no mitigating factors justify the imposition of lesser sanctions, the FCC may issue an order denying the renewal application, and only thereafter may the FCC accept applications for a construction permit specifying the broadcasting facilities of the former licensee. Petitions may be filed to deny the renewal applications of our stations, but any such petitions must raise issues that would cause the FCC to deny a renewal application under the standards adopted in the “two-step” renewal process. Failure to renew a license could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business. Radio station licenses generally expire along with the licenses of all other radio stations in a given state. The FCC accepts renewal applications for various groups of radio stations every two months. The last cycle having begun in June 2019, concluded for the Company’s stations in June 2022. All the Company’s renewal applications were routinely granted by the FCC. In January 2018 and again in February 2022, the FCC designated the renewal applications of radio stations (not the Company’s) for hearing based on the stations’ records of extended periods of silence during and following their respective license renewal terms. Under the Communications Act, if a broadcast station fails to transmit signals for any consecutive 12-month period, the FCC license expires at the end of that period, unless the FCC exercises its discretion to extend or reinstate the license “to promote equity and fairness.” The FCC, to date, has rarely exercised such discretion. Further, the FCC has revoked the licenses of broadcast stations that failed to pay regulatory fees. The Company is current in the payment of regulatory fees to the FCC.

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The following table sets forth information about our radio stations, including the markets they serve, their format, and the FCC class of each of the broadcast stations that we own or operate with an attributable interest and the date on which each such station’s FCC license expires:

    

Station

FCC Station

Expiration Date of

    

Station

   

Market (1)

   

Format

    

Class (2)

    

FCC Authorization

FM:

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

WOXL

 

Asheville, NC

 

Hot Adult Contemporary

C2

December 1, 2027

WTMT

 

Asheville, NC

 

Classic Rock

C2

December 1, 2027

KISM

 

Bellingham, WA

 

Classic Rock

C

February 1, 2030

KAFE

 

Bellingham, WA

 

Adult Contemporary

C

February 1, 2030

WRSY

 

Brattleboro, VT

 

Adult Album Alternative

A

April 1, 2030

WKVT

 

Brattleboro, VT

 

Classic Hits

A

April 1, 2030

WQEL

 

Bucyrus, OH

 

Classic Rock

A

October 1, 2028

WLRW

 

Champaign, IL

 

Hot Adult Contemporary

B

December 1, 2028

WIXY

 

Champaign, IL

 

Country

B1

December 1, 2028

WREE

 

Champaign, IL

 

Classic Hits

B1

December 1, 2028

WYXY

 

Champaign, IL

 

Classic Country

B

December 1, 2028

WAVF

 

Charleston, SC

 

Adult Variety Hits

C

December 1, 2027

WCKN

 

Charleston, SC

 

Country

C1

December 1, 2027

WMXZ

 

Charleston, SC

 

Hot Adult Contemporary

C2

December 1, 2027

WXST

 

Charleston, SC

 

Urban Adult Contemporary

C1

December 1, 2027

WWWV

 

Charlottesville, VA

 

Classic Rock

B

October 1, 2027

WQMZ

 

Charlottesville, VA

 

Adult Contemporary

A

October 1, 2027

WCNR

 

Charlottesville, VA

 

Adult Album Alternative

A

October 1, 2027

WCVL

 

Charlottesville, VA

 

Country

A

October 1, 2027

WCVQ

 

Clarksville, TN/Hopkinsville, KY

 

Hot Adult Contemporary

C1

August 1, 2028

WZZP

 

Clarksville, TN/Hopkinsville, KY

 

Rock

A

August 1, 2028

WVVR

 

Clarksville, TN/Hopkinsville, KY

 

Country

C0

August 1, 2028

WRND

 

Clarksville, TN/Hopkinsville, KY

 

Classic Hits

A

August 1, 2028

WSNY

 

Columbus, OH

 

Adult Contemporary

B

October 1, 2028

WNNP

 

Columbus, OH

 

Classic Hits

A

October 1, 2028

WNND

 

Columbus, OH

 

Classic Hits

A

October 1, 2028

WVMX

 

Columbus, OH

 

Hot Adult Contemporary

A

October 1, 2028

WLVQ

 

Columbus, OH

 

Classic Rock

B

October 1, 2028

KSTZ

 

Des Moines, IA

 

Hot Adult Contemporary

C

February 1, 2029

KIOA

 

Des Moines, IA

 

Classic Hits

C1

February 1, 2029

KAZR

 

Des Moines, IA

 

Rock

C1

February 1, 2029

KOEZ

 

Des Moines, IA

 

Soft Adult Contemporary

C1

February 1, 2029

WHAI

 

Greenfield, MA

 

Adult Contemporary

A

April 1, 2030

WPVQ

 

Greenfield, MA

 

Country

A

April 1, 2030

WMQR

 

Harrisonburg, VA

 

Hot Adult Contemporary

B1

October 1, 2027

WQPO

 

Harrisonburg, VA

 

Contemporary Hits

B

October 1, 2027

WSIG

 

Harrisonburg, VA

 

Classic Country

B1

October 1, 2027

WWRE

 

Harrisonburg, VA

 

Classic Hits

A

October 1, 2027

WOEZ

 

Hilton Head Island, SC

 

Soft Adult Contemporary

C3

December 1, 2027

WLHH

 

Hilton Head Island, SC

 

Classic Hits

C3

December 1, 2027

WVSC

 

Hilton Head Island, SC

 

Adult Variety Hits

C3

December 1, 2027

WYXL

 

Ithaca, NY

 

Adult Contemporary

B

June 1, 2030

WQNY

 

Ithaca, NY

 

Country

B

June 1, 2030

WIII

 

Ithaca, NY

 

Classic Rock

B

June 1, 2030

WFIZ

 

Ithaca, NY

 

Contemporary Hits

A

June 1, 2030

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Station

FCC Station

Expiration Date of

Station

  

Market (1)

  

Format

  

Class (2)

   

FCC Authorization

KEGI

 

Jonesboro, AR

 

Classic Rock

C2

June 1, 2028

KDXY

 

Jonesboro, AR

 

Country

C3

June 1, 2028

KJBX

 

Jonesboro, AR

 

Adult Contemporary

C3

June 1, 2028

WKNE

 

Keene, NH

 

Hot Adult Contemporary

B

April 1, 2030

WSNI

 

Keene, NH

 

Adult Contemporary

A

April 1, 2030

WINQ

 

Keene, NH

 

Country

A

April 1, 2030

WZID

 

Manchester, NH

 

Adult Contemporary

B

April 1, 2030

WMLL

 

Manchester, NH

 

Country

A

April 1, 2030

WKLH

 

Milwaukee, WI

 

Classic Rock

B

December 1, 2028

WHQG

 

Milwaukee, WI

 

Rock

B

December 1, 2028

WRXS

 

Milwaukee, WI

 

Oldies

A

December 1, 2028

WJMR

 

Milwaukee, WI

 

Urban Adult Contemporary

A

December 1, 2028

KMIT

 

Mitchell, SD

 

Country

C1

April 1, 2029

KUQL

 

Mitchell, SD

 

Classic Hits

C1

April 1, 2029

WNOR

 

Norfolk, VA

 

Rock

B

October 1, 2027

WAFX

 

Norfolk, VA

 

Classic Rock

C

October 1, 2027

WOGK

 

Ocala, FL

 

Country

C0

February 1, 2028

WYND

 

Ocala, FL

 

Classic Rock

A

February 1, 2028

WNDD

 

Ocala, FL

 

Classic Rock

A

February 1, 2028

WNDN

 

Ocala, FL

 

Classic Rock

A

February 1, 2028

WRSI

 

Northampton, MA

 

Adult Album Alternative

A

April 1, 2030

WPOR

 

Portland, ME

 

Country

B

April 1, 2030

WCLZ

 

Portland, ME

 

Adult Album Alternative

B

April 1, 2030

WMGX

 

Portland, ME

 

Hot Adult Contemporary

B

April 1, 2030

WYNZ

 

Portland, ME

 

Classic Hits

B1

April 1, 2030

KICD

 

Spencer, IA

 

Country

C1

February 1, 2029

KMRR

 

Spencer, IA

 

Adult Contemporary

C3

February 1, 2029

WLZX

 

Springfield, MA

 

Rock

A

April 1, 2030

WAQY

 

Springfield, MA

 

Classic Rock

B

April 1, 2030

WYMG

 

Springfield, IL

 

Classic Rock

B

December 1, 2028

WLFZ

 

Springfield, IL

 

Country

B

December 1, 2028

WDBR

 

Springfield, IL

 

Contemporary Hits

B

December 1, 2028

WTAX

 

Springfield, IL

 

News/Talk

B1

December 1, 2028

WNAX

 

Yankton, SD

 

Country

C1

April 1, 2029

AM:

WISE

 

Asheville, NC

 

Sports/Talk

B

December 1, 2027

WYSE

 

Asheville, NC

 

Sports/Talk

D

December 1, 2027

KGMI

 

Bellingham, WA

 

News/Talk

B

February 1, 2030

KPUG

 

Bellingham, WA

 

Sports/Talk

B

February 1, 2030

KBAI

 

Bellingham, WA

 

Classic Hits

B

February 1, 2030

WINQ

 

Brattleboro, VT

 

Country

C

April 1, 2030

WBCO

 

Bucyrus, OH

 

Classic Country

D

October 1, 2028

WSPO

 

Charleston, SC

 

Gospel

B

December 1, 2027

WINA

 

Charlottesville, VA

 

News/Talk

B

October 1, 2027

WVAX

 

Charlottesville, VA

 

Sports/Talk

C

October 1, 2027

WQEZ

 

Clarksville, TN/Hopkinsville, KY

 

Soft Adult Contemporary

D

August 1, 2028

WKFN

 

Clarksville, TN

 

Sports/Talk

D

August 1, 2028

WNZE

Clarksville, TN

News/Talk

C

August 1, 2028

KRNT

 

Des Moines, IA

 

Sports/Talk

B

February 1, 2029

KPSZ

 

Des Moines, IA

 

Christian

B

February 1, 2029

9

    

Station

FCC Station

Expiration Date of

Station

   

Market (1)

  

Format

  

Class (2)

     

FCC Authorization

WIZZ

 

Greenfield, MA

 

Oldies

D

April 1, 2030

WSVA

 

Harrisonburg, VA

 

News/Talk

B

October 1, 2027

WHBG

 

Harrisonburg, VA

 

Sports/Talk

D

October 1, 2027

WHCU

 

Ithaca, NY

 

News/Talk

B

June 1, 2030

WNYY

 

Ithaca, NY

 

Oldies

B

June 1, 2030

WKBK

 

Keene, NH

 

News/Talk

B

April 1, 2030

WZBK

 

Keene, NH

 

Classic Hits

D

April 1, 2030

WFEA

 

Manchester, NH

 

News/Talk

B

April 1, 2030

WJOI

 

Milwaukee, WI

 

Christian

C

December 1, 2028

WHMP

 

Northampton, MA

 

News/Talk

C

April 1, 2030

WGAN

 

Portland, ME

 

News/Talk

B

April 1, 2030

WZAN

 

Portland, ME

 

Classic Country

B

April 1, 2030

WBAE

 

Portland, ME

 

Soft Adult Contemporary

C

April 1, 2030

WVAE

 

Portland, ME

 

Soft Adult Contemporary

C

April 1, 2030

KICD

 

Spencer, IA

 

News/Talk

C

February 1, 2029

WLZX

 

Springfield, MA

 

Rock

D

April 1, 2030

WTAX

 

Springfield, IL

 

News/Talk

C

December 1, 2028

WNAX

 

Yankton, SD

 

News/Talk

B

April 1, 2029

(1)Some stations are licensed to a different community located within the market that they serve.
(2)In order of increasing power, AM stations are classified as: Class D, C, B or A. (See Title 47 C.F.R. §73.21 for a definition of AM station class information, including operating power.) In order of increasing power and antenna height, FM stations are classified as: Class A, B1, C3, B, C2, C1, C0 or C. (See Title 47 C.F.R. §73.210 for a definition of FM station class information, including effective radiated power [“ERP”] and antenna height.) WISE, KPSZ, KPUG, KGMI, KBAI, WNYY, WHCU, WINQ(AM) and WSVA operate with lower power at night than during daytime. WYSE, WBCO, WQEZ, WKFN, WHBG, WZBK and WLZX(AM) are “Class D” stations that operate daytime only or with greatly reduced power at night.

Ownership Matters.   The Communications Act prohibits the assignment of a broadcast license or the transfer of control of a broadcast licensee without the prior approval of the FCC. In determining whether to grant or renew a broadcast license, the FCC considers a number of factors pertaining to the licensee, including compliance with the Communications Act’s limitations on alien ownership; compliance with various rules limiting common ownership of broadcast, cable and newspaper properties; and the “character” and other qualifications of the licensee and those persons holding “attributable or cognizable” interests therein.

Under the Communications Act (Section 310(b)), broadcast licenses may not be granted to any corporation having more than one-fifth of its issued and outstanding capital stock owned or voted by aliens (including non-U.S. corporations), foreign governments or their representatives (collectively, “Aliens”). The Communications Act also prohibits a corporation, without FCC waiver, from holding a broadcast license if that corporation is controlled, directly or indirectly, by another corporation in which more than 25% of the issued and outstanding capital stock is owned or voted by Aliens. The FCC has issued interpretations of existing law under which these restrictions in modified form apply to other forms of business organizations, including partnerships. We serve as a holding company for our various radio station subsidiaries (and as such we cannot have more than 25% of our stock owned or voted by Aliens).

The FCC has adopted rules to extend to broadcast licensees the same rules and procedures that common carrier wireless licensees use to seek approval for foreign ownership, with broadcast-specific modifications.

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The rules and procedures allow a broadcast licensee to request in a petition for declaratory ruling under Title 47 U.S.C. Section 310(b)(4):

(1)approval of up to and including 100 percent aggregate foreign ownership of its controlling U.S. parent;
(2)approval for a proposed, controlling foreign investor to increase its equity and/or voting interests in the U.S. parent up to and including 100 percent at some future time without filing a new petition—this applies where the foreign investor would acquire an initial controlling interest of less than 100 percent; and
(3)approval for a non-controlling foreign investor named in the petition to increase its equity and/or voting interests in the U.S. parent at some future time, up to and including a non-controlling 49.99 percent equity and/or voting interest.

The rules require the Company to seek specific approval only of foreign individuals or entities with a greater than 5 percent ownership interest (or, in certain situations, an interest greater than 10 percent).

The rules allow broadcast licensees that have foreign ownership rulings to apply those rulings to all radio and television broadcast licenses then held or subsequently proposed to be acquired by the same licensee and its covered subsidiaries and affiliates, regardless of the broadcast service (e.g., AM, FM, or TV) or the geographic area in which the stations are located.

The methodology provides a framework for a publicly traded licensee or controlling U.S. parent to ascertain its foreign ownership using information that is “known or reasonably should be known” to the company in the ordinary course of business.

For publicly traded licensees and U.S. parent companies (like the Company), the rules formalize the current equitable practice of recognizing a licensee’s good faith efforts to comply with Section 310(b) where the non-compliance was due solely to circumstances beyond the licensee’s control that were not known or reasonably foreseeable to the licensee.

We are permitted to own an unlimited number of radio stations on a nationwide basis (subject to the local ownership restrictions described below).

Under the rules, the number of radio stations one party may own in a local Nielsen Audio-rated radio market is determined by the number of full-power commercial and noncommercial educational (“NCE”) radio stations in the market as determined by Nielsen Audio and BIA Advisory Services, LLC d/b/a BIA/Kelsey. Radio markets that are not Nielsen Audio rated are determined by analysis of the broadcast coverage contours of the radio stations involved.

Under the Communications Act, and the FCC’s “Local Radio Ownership Rule,” we are permitted to own radio stations (without regard to the audience shares of the stations) based upon the number of full-power commercial and NCE radio stations in the relevant radio market as follows:

Number of Stations

    

In Radio Market

    

Number of Stations We Can Own

14 or Fewer

 

Total of 5 stations, not more than 3 in the same service (AM or FM), except the Company cannot own more than 50% of the stations in the market.

15-29

 

Total of 6 stations, not more than 4 in the same service (AM or FM).

30-44

 

Total of 7 stations, not more than 4 in the same service (AM or FM).

45 or More

 

Total of 8 stations, not more than 5 in the same service (AM or FM).

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The FCC is required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to review its media ownership rules every four years to determine whether they remain “necessary in the public interest as the result of competition.” The FCC’s 2010/2014 Quadrennial Review Order on Reconsideration, 32 FCC Rcd 9802 (2017), modified the FCC’s media ownership rules by: (1) eliminating the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership and radio/television cross-ownership rules; (2) revising the local television ownership rule by eliminating the “eight voices” test and permitting applicants to seek the combination of two top-four ranked stations in a given market on a case-by-case basis; and (3) deeming joint sales agreements between television stations to be non-attributable. In FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project, 141 S. Ct. 1150 (2021), the U. S. Supreme Court reversed a decision of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit which had vacated the FCC’s 2017 order. On December 12, 2018, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to initiate the 2018 Quadrennial Review proceeding. On June 4, 2021, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking to refresh the record in the 2018 Quadrennial Review proceeding. In 2018 Quadrennial Regulatory Review—Review of the Commission’s Broadcast Ownership Rules and Other Rules Adopted Pursuant to Section 202 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, FCC 23-117, released December 26, 2023, the FCC found that its existing rules, with some minor modifications, remain necessary in the public interest. The FCC retained the “dual network rule” and the “local radio ownership rule,” the latter of which was modified only to make permanent the interim contour-overlap methodology long used to determine ownership limits in areas outside the boundaries of defined Nielsen Audio Metro markets and in Puerto Rico. The FCC retained its local television ownership rule with adjustments to reflect changes that have occurred in the television marketplace to update the methodology for determining station ranking within a market to better reflect current industry practices, and expanded the existing prohibition on use of affiliation to circumvent the restriction on acquiring a second top-four ranked station in a market.

New rules that could be promulgated under the Communications Act may permit us to own, operate, control or have a cognizable interest in additional radio broadcast stations if the FCC determines that such ownership, operation, control or cognizable interest will result in an increase in the number of radio stations in operation. No firm date has been established for initiation of this rule-making proceeding. New rules could restrict the Company’s ability to acquire additional radio and television stations in some markets. The Court and FCC proceedings are ongoing and we cannot predict what action, if any, the Court or the FCC may take to further modify its rules. Due to changes in local radio markets, the ownership of some of our radio stations, in the future, could exceed the current ownership limits imposed by the Local Radio Ownership Rule. Their current ownership structure is “grandfathered” by the FCC. Absent a waiver, it might not be possible to sell all of them as currently configured in “clusters” to a single purchaser. The statements herein are based solely on the FCC’s multiple ownership rules in effect as of the date hereof and do not include any forward-looking statements concerning compliance with any future multiple ownership rules.

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All commercial broadcasters were required to file a “biennial” ownership report, by December 1, 2023, describing the ownership of its stations as of October 1, 2023. The Company timely filed its reports. The FCC eliminated the prior requirement to file with the FCC paper copies of certain agreements, corporate organization documents, and the like. Instead, a broadcaster is required to upload copies of these documents to the station’s online public inspection file (“OPIF”), or provide a list of such documents and make them available to a requesting party. The FCC generally applies its ownership limits to “attributable” interests held by an individual, corporation, partnership or other association. In the case of corporations holding broadcast licenses, the interests of officers, directors and those who, directly or indirectly, have the right to vote 5% or more of the corporation’s stock (or 20% or more of such stock in the case of certain passive investors that are holding stock for investment purposes only) are generally attributable, as are positions of an officer or director of a corporate parent of a broadcast licensee. Currently, one of our directors has an attributable interest or interests in companies applying for or licensed to operate broadcast stations other than the Company.

The FCC’s ownership attribution rules (a) apply to limited liability companies and registered limited liability partnerships the same attribution rules that the FCC applies to limited partnerships; and (b) include an equity/debt plus (“EDP”) rule that attributes the other media interests of an otherwise passive investor if the investor is (1) a “major-market program supplier” that supplies over 15% of a station’s total weekly broadcast programming hours, or (2) a same-market media entity subject to the FCC’s multiple ownership rules (including broadcasters, cable operators and newspapers) so that its interest in a licensee or other media entity in that market will be attributed if that interest, aggregating both debt and equity holdings, exceeds 33% of the total asset value (equity plus debt) of the licensee or media entity. We could be prohibited from acquiring a financial interest in stations in markets where application of the EDP rule would result in us having an attributable interest in the stations.

In addition to the FCC’s multiple ownership rules, the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission and some state governments have the authority to examine proposed transactions for compliance with antitrust statutes and guidelines. The Antitrust Division has issued “civil investigative demands” and obtained consent decrees requiring the divestiture of stations in a particular market based on antitrust concerns.

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Programming and Operation.   The Communications Act requires broadcasters to serve the “public interest.” Licensees are required to present programming that is responsive to community problems, needs and interests and to maintain certain records demonstrating such responsiveness. Complaints from listeners concerning a station’s programming often will be considered by the FCC when it evaluates renewal applications of a licensee, although such complaints may be filed at any time and generally may be considered by the FCC at any time. Stations also must follow various rules promulgated under the Communications Act that regulate, among other things, political advertising, sponsorship identification, the advertisement of contests and lotteries, obscene and indecent broadcasts, and technical operations, including limits on radio frequency radiation. In 2020, the FCC entered into a Consent Decree with Sinclair Broadcast Group, which agreed to pay a $48 million dollar fine to settle issues related to sponsorship identification violations, among other matters. The FCC also entered into a Consent Decree with Cumulus Radio to settle violations of the sponsorship identification requirements in connection with the broadcast of issue ads promoting a construction project in New Hampshire. In an Order and Consent Decree, Townsquare Media, Inc., DA 24-54, released January 17, 2024, the licensee of AM radio stations in Idaho agreed to pay a civil penalty of $500,000 to resolve an investigation into violations of the FCC’s rules relating to on-air sponsorship identification and the maintenance of online political files. There are other examples of FCC enforcement action for violation of the sponsorship identification requirements. A licensee that broadcasts or advertises information about a contest it conducts must fully and accurately disclose the material terms of the contest, and conduct the contest substantially as announced or advertised over the air or on the Internet. The disclosure of material terms must be made by either periodic disclosures broadcast on the station or written disclosures on the station's Internet web site. Violation of the rule can result in significant fines. In 2020, the FCC fined a broadcaster $5,200 for failing to conduct its contests as advertised by failing to award prizes in a timely manner. Another licensee entered into a Consent Decree with the FCC, paying a fine of $125,000 for, among other things, predetermining the outcome of a contest. The FCC requires the owners of antenna supporting structures (towers) to register them with the FCC. As an owner of such towers, our subsidiaries are subject to the registration requirements. On January 13, 2020, the FCC released an Order confirming a Consent Decree whereby the owner of several antenna structures agreed to pay the government a civil penalty of $1,130,000 and develop a Compliance Plan requiring reports for two years as a result of (1) failing to conduct required daily inspections of the lighting systems at 10 towers, (2) failing to completely log lighting failures at 7 towers, and (3) failing to timely notify the FCC of its acquisition of 2 towers. In 2017, the FCC eliminated the broadcast main studio rule. The FCC retained the requirement that stations maintain a local or toll-free telephone number to ensure consumers have ready access to their local stations. The FCC’s rules require cable operators, direct satellite TV providers, broadcast radio licensees, and satellite radio licensees to post public inspection files to the FCC's online database (the “OPIF” referred to above) rather than maintaining them in a local public inspection file. The FCC believes posting these files to the OPIF renders the materials more widely accessible to the public. The Company’s radio stations post their public inspection files to the FCC’s website. The FCC has warned licensees of possible enforcement action if these files are found not to be in compliance at the time of license renewal. Because of inadvertent untimely posting to the OPIF of certain political records at stations owned by one of the Company’s subsidiaries, that subsidiary was obliged to enter into a Consent Decree with the FCC (FCC Order, DA 20-1263, released October 26, 2020). The Consent Decree required Company employees responsible for performing, supervising, overseeing, or managing activities related to the maintenance of online political files to thoroughly understand the Company’s obligation to comply with laws regulating political broadcasting and to promptly report to the FCC any noncompliance with those laws. The affected subsidiary filed a report with the FCC on December 8, 2021, regarding its record of compliance with the political laws and the Company’s obligations under the Consent Decree terminated as of February 7, 2022. The FCC in 2020 revised its rules governing the publication of local notice of the filing of certain broadcast applications. FCC licensees, like the Company’s subsidiaries, must maintain a tab on their station websites where the public can view the OPIF and a tab where notices describing pending applications must be posted, rather than printing such notices in local newspapers. In an NPRM, Priority Application Review for Broadcast Stations that Provide Local Journalism or Other Locally Originated Programming, FCC 24-1 (MB Docket No. 24-14), released January 17, 2024, the FCC proposed to prioritize processing review of certain applications filed by commercial and noncommercial radio and television broadcast stations that provide locally originated programming. The FCC stated that its goal is “to provide additional incentive to stations to provide programming that responds to the needs and interests of the communities they are licensed to serve.” The FCC stated that the program would be “voluntary” and that such prioritization would be granted to renewal applicants, as well as applicants for assignment or transfer of license, that certify they provide locally originated programming, thereby advancing the FCC’s efforts to promote localism and serve local communities across the nation. If the Company were not to certify that its stations provide local programming, actions on its applications to acquire new facilities might be deferred until applications containing such

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certifications had been earlier processed. However, there is some risk in certifying since competitors or members of the public might file adverse petitions challenging the accuracy of such certifications. The FCC is seeking comment on the proposal and the Company cannot predict whether such rules will be adopted and become effective.

The Company is required to pay (1) FCC filing fees in connection with its applications and (2) annual regulatory fees determined by the number and character of the radio stations the Company owns as of October 1 of each prior year. The Company timely paid its regulatory fees for Fiscal Year 2023.

Equal Employment Opportunity Rules.   Equal employment opportunity (EEO) rules and policies for broadcasters prohibit discrimination by broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors. They also require broadcasters to provide notice of job vacancies and to undertake additional outreach measures, such as job fairs and scholarship programs. The rules mandate a “three prong” outreach program; i.e., Prong 1: widely disseminate information concerning each full-time (30 hours or more) job vacancy, except for vacancies filled in exigent circumstances; Prong 2: provide notice of each full-time job vacancy to recruitment organizations that have requested such notice; and Prong 3: complete two (for broadcast employment units with five to ten full-time employees or that are located in smaller markets) or four (for employment units with more than ten full-time employees located in larger markets) longer-term recruitment initiatives within a two-year period. These include, for example, job fairs, scholarship and internship programs, and other community events designed to inform the public as to employment opportunities in broadcasting. The rules mandate extensive record keeping and reporting requirements. In 2017, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling permitting broadcast stations to use the internet for job postings as their sole means of recruiting employees (so long as the postings reach all segments of the station’s community). The EEO rules are enforced through review at renewal time, and through random audits and targeted investigations resulting from information received as to possible violations. The FCC has not yet decided on whether and how to apply the EEO rule to part-time positions. Failure to observe these or other rules and policies can result in the imposition of various sanctions, including monetary forfeitures, the grant of “short” (less than the full eight-year) renewal terms or, for particularly egregious violations, the denial of a license renewal application or the revocation of a license. As announced in an NPRM released June 21, 2019 (MB Docket No. 19-177), the FCC is reviewing the EEO rules. In the NPRM, the FCC seeks comment on its track record on EEO enforcement, whether the agency should make improvements to EEO compliance and enforcement, and invites comment on its audit program. In a Further NPRM (MB Docket No. 98-204), released July 23, 2021, the FCC sought to refresh the existing record regarding the statutorily mandated collection of data on the FCC Form 395-B, as contemplated by the Act. This employment report form is intended to gather workforce composition data from broadcasters on an annual basis but the filing of the form was suspended in 2001 in the wake of a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals (MD/DC/DE Broadcasters Association v. FCC, Case No. 1094, 236 F.3d 13 (2001); rehearing denied, 253 F. 3d 732 (2001), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 1113 (2002)) vacating certain aspects of the EEO requirements. While the FCC in 2004 adopted revised regulations regarding the filing of Form 395-B and updated the form, the requirement that broadcasters once again submit the form to the FCC was suspended until issues were resolved regarding confidentiality of the employment data. On February 22, 2024, the FCC released its Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Second Further Notice of Rulemaking, FCC 24-18, reinstating the filing of Form 395-B. The Company cannot predict the impact of the reinstated form on the Company or its operations.

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Time Brokerage Agreements.   As is common in the industry, we have previously entered into what have commonly been referred to as Time Brokerage Agreements (“TBAs”) which are sometimes termed “Local Marketing Agreements.” Such arrangements are an extension of the concept of agreements under which a licensee of a station sells (or “leases”) blocks of time on its station to an entity or entities which purchase the blocks of time and use the time to broadcast material the lessee has produced, or which sell their own commercial advertising announcements during the time periods in question. While these agreements may take varying forms, under a typical TBA, separately owned and licensed radio or television stations agree to enter into cooperative arrangements of varying sorts, subject to compliance with the requirements of antitrust laws and with the FCC’s rules and policies. Under these types of arrangements, separately-owned stations agree to function cooperatively in terms of programming, advertising sales, and other matters, subject to the licensee of each station maintaining independent control over the financing, programming and station operations of its own station. One typical type of TBA is a programming agreement between two separately-owned radio or television stations serving a common service area, whereby the licensee of one station purchases substantial portions of the broadcast day on the other licensee’s station, subject to ultimate editorial and other controls being exercised by the latter licensee, and sells advertising time during such program segments. The Company’s stations currently are not parties to any TBAs.

The FCC’s rules provide that a station purchasing (brokering or leasing) time on another station serving the same market will be considered to have an attributable ownership interest in the brokered station for purposes of the FCC’s multiple ownership rules. As a result, under the rules, a broadcast station will not be permitted to enter into a time brokerage agreement giving it the right to purchase more than 15% of the broadcast time, on a weekly basis, of another local station that it could not own under the local ownership rules of the FCC’s multiple ownership rules. Effective October 22, 2020, the FCC eliminated Title 47 C.F.R. § 73.3556, a rule that prohibited the duplication of programming on co-owned radio stations in the same market. A petition for reconsideration of that action as to FM duplication is pending. Reports have circulated that some members of the FCC are considering a proposal that would reinstate the rule in some form. If the non-duplication rule were reinstated, it could require the Company to expend additional funds to program separately some currently simulcast stations. The Company cannot predict how the FCC may act on the petition.

The FCC has adopted rules that require the broadcast of a specific disclosure at the time of broadcast if material aired pursuant to a lease of time on a station has been sponsored, paid for, or furnished by a foreign governmental entity. Consistent with the Communications Act and the FCC’s sponsorship identification rules, the Company’s stations are required to disclose political programming or programming involving the discussion of a controversial issue if such programming is provided by a foreign governmental entity for free, or for nominal compensation, as an inducement to air. The rule requires the Company to exercise reasonable diligence (and obtain certifications from lessees) to ascertain whether the foreign sponsorship disclosure requirements apply at the time of the lease agreement and at any renewal thereof. A station must place in its OPIF on a quarterly basis certain information if the station broadcasts such foreign-sponsored programming. On October 6, 2022, the FCC released a Second NPRM, seeking comment on establishing a requirement that licensees require a lessee to use a specific certification form to disclose whether a lessee is or is not a foreign governmental entity and whether it knows of any entity or individual further back in the programming production or distribution chain that qualifies as a foreign governmental entity. By Public Notice, released December 13, 2022, the FCC extended the Comment and Reply Comment Deadlines in this proceeding. If adopted, the proposed rules would require the Company to upload the certifications to the OPIF whether or not the lessee has a connection to a foreign government. The Company cannot predict whether such new rules will be adopted, and if so, the form they might take.

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Other FCC Requirements.

Low Power FM Radio.   There exists a “low power radio service” on the FM band (“LPFM”) in which the FCC authorizes the construction and operation of NCE FM stations with up to 100 watts ERP with antenna height above average terrain (“HAAT”) at up to 30 meters (100 feet). This combination is calculated to produce a service area radius of approximately 3.5 miles. The FCC’s rules will not permit any broadcaster or other media entity subject to the FCC’s ownership rules to control or hold an attributable interest in an LPFM station or enter into related operating agreements with an LPFM licensee. Thus, absent a waiver, we could not own or program an LPFM station. LPFM stations are allocated throughout the FM broadcast band, (i.e., 88.1 to 107.9 MHz), although they must operate with an NCE format. The FCC has established allocation rules that require FM stations to be separated by specified distances to other stations on the same frequency, and stations on frequencies on the first, second and third channels adjacent to the center frequency. As required by the Local Community Radio Act of 2010, the FCC in 2012 modified its rules to maintain its existing minimum distance separation requirements for full-service FM stations, FM translator stations, and FM booster stations that broadcast radio reading services via an analog subcarrier frequency to avoid potential interference by LPFM stations; and when licensing new FM translator stations, FM booster stations, and LPFM stations, to ensure that: (i) licenses are available to FM translator stations, FM booster stations, and LPFM stations; (ii) such decisions are made based on the needs of the local community; and (iii) FM translator stations, FM booster stations, and LPFM stations remain equal in status and secondary to existing and modified full-service FM stations. By Report and Order, released April 23, 2020, the FCC modified the LPFM technical rules in four main ways: (1) expanding the permissible use of directional antennas; (2) expanding the definition of minor change applications for LPFM stations; (3) allowing LPFM stations to own FM boosters; and (4) permitting LPFM and Class D FM stations operating on the NCE FM reserved band (channels 201 to 220) to propose facilities short-spaced to television stations operating on channel 6 (TV6) with the consent of the potentially affected stations. The FCC also took other less significant actions affecting the LPFM service.

On January 5, 2012, the FCC released a Report to Congress on the impact that LPFM stations would have on full-service commercial FM stations. The FCC “found no statistically reliable evidence that low-power FM stations have a substantial or consistent economic impact on full-service commercial FM stations,” and that “low-power FM stations generally do not have, and in the future are unlikely to have, a demonstrable economic impact on full-service commercial FM radio stations.” Some LPFM stations that broadcast commercial announcements in violation of the law could have a negative economic impact on the Company’s stations. On July 31, 2023, the FCC’s Media Bureau announced a filing window for applications for LPFM new station construction permits. The filing window opened on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, and was extended to close on December 15, 2023. More than 1,000 LPFM applications were received during the filing window. Although rule-compliant LPFM stations compete for audience with the Company’s full-power and FM translator stations, the Company cannot predict whether there will be future negative economic impact on its stations.

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As part of the transition of television stations from analog to digital operations, the FCC sought comment in a 2014 NPRM on whether to allow low power television (“LPTV”) stations (so-called “Franken FM” or “FM6” radio stations) on digital television channel 6 to continue to operate analog FM radio-type services on an ancillary or supplementary basis on 87.75 MHz at the lower end of the portion of the FM band reserved for NCE stations. On June 7, 2022 (MB Docket No. 03-185), the FCC released a Fifth NPRM seeking comment on whether FM6 operations serve the public interest and should be authorized to continue in any capacity. The FCC limited the scope of FM6 operations to only those LPTV channel 6 stations with "active" FM6 engineering special temporary authority on the release date of the Fifth NPRM. In its Fifth Report and Order, Amendment of Parts 73 & 74 of the Commission's Rules to Establish Rules for Digital Low Power TV & TV Translator Stations, FCC 23-58, released July 20, 2023, the FCC concluded that the public interest will be served by allowing the continued operation of existing analog FM6 LPTV radio stations subject to certain conditions. The FCC declined to adopt a proposal discussed in the Fifth NPRM that would allow new FM radio stations to be licensed on 82-88 MHz across the United States, for lack of record support. There are only 14 authorized FM6 stations. There is an FM6 station in the Norfolk, Virginia, radio market where the Company operates two commercial radio stations. The Company cannot predict whether the FM6 station will have any impact on the Company’s stations in that market.

As a broadcaster, the Company is required to comply with the FCC rules implementing the Emergency Alert System (“EAS”). The Company’s stations must transmit Presidential messages during national emergencies and may transmit local messages, such as severe weather alerts and AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) alerts. On January 7, 2021, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued an “Enforcement Advisory” which highlighted EAS participants’ obligations, identified measures to improve the EAS, and warned that failure to comply with the EAS rules may subject a violator to sanctions including, but not limited to, substantial monetary forfeitures. Our stations are required periodically to file with the FCC forms reporting on the results of EAS tests. In September, 2022, the FCC adopted new EAS requirements directing EAS participants to check whether certain types of alerts are available in common alerting protocol (“CAP”) format and, if so, to transmit the CAP version of the alert rather than the legacy-formatted version. The FCC also prescribed text that EAS participants must broadcast using plain language terms. In an NPRM adopted October 27, 2022, the FCC proposed to require EAS participants to report to the FCC compromises of EAS equipment, communications systems, and services. The FCC proposed to require EAS participants to annually certify to having a cybersecurity risk management plan in place and to employ sufficient security measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their respective alerting systems.

Use of FM Boosters for Geo-Targeting. By NPRM released December 1, 2020, the FCC sought comment on whether to modify the FCC’s rules governing the operation of FM booster stations by FM radio broadcasters in certain limited circumstances. Through its NPRM, the FCC sought comment regarding changes to the booster station rules that could enable FM broadcasters to use FM booster stations to air “geo-targeted” content (e.g., news, weather, and advertisements) independent of the signals of the booster’s primary station within different portions of the primary station's protected service contour for a limited period of time during the broadcast hour. The FCC has solicited public comment on tests of the proposed system. The Company cannot predict whether the FCC will adopt the proposed rules, and if adopted, whether the Company would use FM booster stations in this manner. The Company currently has no FM booster stations.

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Digital Audio Radio Satellite Service and Internet Radio.   In adopting its rules for the Digital Audio Radio Satellite Service (“DARS”) in the 2310-2360 MHz frequency band, the FCC stated, “although healthy satellite DARS systems are likely to have some adverse impact on terrestrial radio audience size, revenues and profits, the record does not demonstrate that licensing satellite DARS would have such a strong adverse impact that it threatens the provision of local service.” The FCC granted two nationwide licenses, one to XM Satellite Radio, which began broadcasting in May 2001, and a second to Sirius Satellite Radio, which began broadcasting in February 2002. The satellite radio systems provide multiple channels of audio programming in exchange for the payment of a subscription fee. The FCC approved the application of Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. to transfer control of the licenses and authorizations held by the two companies to one company, which is now known as Sirius XM Radio, Inc. Various companies have introduced devices that permit the reception of audio programming streamed over the Internet on home computers and on portable receivers such as cell phones, in automobiles, and through so-called “smart speakers” like Amazon’s Alexa service. A number of digital music providers have developed and are offering their product through the Internet. Terrestrial radio operators (including the Company) are also making their product available through the Internet. Due to interference generated by their electric motors, some manufacturers of all-electric vehicles do not market vehicles that can receive AM broadcasts over the air (although AM broadcasts can be heard over digital streaming services, such as Tunein Radio). In the U. S. Senate, a Bill, S.1669 bill would require the Department of Transportation to issue a rule that requires all new motor vehicles to have devices that can access AM broadcast stations installed as standard equipment. The Company cannot predict whether the bill will be enacted into law. To date, the Company has not perceived negative economic impact from DARS or Internet-streamed audio on the Company’s full-service stations and FM translators, possibly due, in part, to the possibility of confusion in the digital advertising market, but the Company cannot predict whether there will be future negative economic impact.

In-Band On-Channel “Hybrid Digital” Radio.   The FCC’s rules permit radio stations to broadcast using in-band, on-channel (IBOC) technology that allows AM and FM stations to operate using the IBOC system developed by iBiquity Digital Corporation. This technology has become commonly known as “hybrid digital” or HD radio. Stations broadcast the same main channel program material in both analog and digital modes. HD radio technology permits “hybrid” operations, the simultaneous transmission of analog and digital signals with a single AM and FM channel. HD radio technology can provide near CD-quality sound on FM channels and FM quality on AM channels. HD radio technology also permits the transmission of up to four additional program streams over FM stations and one over AM stations (which streams do not count as separate radio stations under the multiple ownership rules.) At the present time, we are configured to broadcast in HD radio on 55 stations. In an Order and NPRM, the FCC proposed changes to its digital audio broadcasting technical rules that would permit additional FM stations to increase FM HD effective radiated power beyond the existing levels without the need for individual Commission authorization. In addition, the FCC proposed to allow digital FM stations to operate with asymmetric power on the digital sidebands. This would allow stations to operate with different power levels on the upper and lower digital sidebands, as a way to facilitate greater digital FM radio coverage without interfering with adjacent channel FM stations. The Company cannot predict whether the proposed rules will be adopted.

On October 28, 2020, the FCC released a Report and Order, in which it adopted rules (effective January 4, 2021) to allow AM radio stations to broadcast an all-digital signal using the HD Radio IBOC mode termed “MA3.” In adopting the new rules, the FCC said that a voluntary conversion to all-digital broadcasting will benefit many AM stations and their listeners by improving reception quality and listenable coverage in stations' service areas. At this time, the Company has not made a decision on whether to convert any of its AM radio stations to all-digital operation.

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Use of FM Translators by AM Stations and Digital Program Streams.   FM translator stations are relatively low power radio stations (maximum ERP: 250 Watts) that rebroadcast the programs of full-power AM and FM stations on a secondary basis, meaning they must terminate or modify their operation if they cause interference to a full-power station. The FCC permits AM stations to be rebroadcast on FM translator stations in order to improve reception of programs broadcast by AM stations. The Company intends to continue to use some of its existing FM translators in connection with some of its AM stations. The Company is using some of its existing FM translators to rebroadcast HD radio program streams generated by some of its FM stations, which is permitted by the FCC. In a 2015 Report and Order, Revitalization of the AM Service, the FCC announced an opportunity, restricted to AM licensees and permittees, to apply for and receive authorizations to relocate existing FM translator stations within 250 miles for the sole and limited purpose of enhancing their existing service to the public. To implement this policy, the FCC opened “filing windows,” the last one closing October 31, 2016. Some of the Company’s subsidiaries that are AM licensees, acquired FM translators during the filing window, and relocated them to their local markets to pair with some of the Company’s AM broadcast stations. The FM translators so acquired were obligated to rebroadcast the related AM station for at least four years, not counting any periods of silence. The FCC later opened two windows for the filing of applications for construction permits for new FM translators, the final window closing January 31, 2018. In the filing windows, qualifying AM licensees could apply for one, and only one, new FM translator station, in the non-reserved FM band to be used solely to re-broadcast the licensee’s AM signal to provide fill-in and/or nighttime service on a permanent basis. The Company filed applications in both windows and obtained some construction permits as a result. If the Company should decide that a subsidiary should sell or suspend operations of an AM station with such an FM construction permit or license, the subsidiary would also be required to concurrently sell or suspend operations of the FM translator. The FCC has adopted rules regarding FM translator interference (1) allowing FM translators to resolve interference issues by changing channels to any available same-band frequency using a minor modification application; (2) standardizing the information that must be compiled and submitted by a station claiming interference from an FM translator, including a required minimum number of listener complaints; (3) establishing interference complaint resolution procedures; and (4) establishing an outer contour limit (45 dBm) for the affected station within which interference complaints will be considered actionable while providing for a process to waive that limit in special circumstances. Because FM translators are “secondary services,” they could be displaced by full power stations.

Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.   The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, the federal agencies responsible for enforcing the federal antitrust laws, may investigate certain acquisitions. Under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, an acquisition meeting certain size thresholds requires the parties to file Notification and Report Forms with the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice and to observe specified waiting period requirements before consummating the acquisition. Any decision by the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice to challenge a proposed acquisition could affect our ability to consummate the acquisition or to consummate it on the proposed terms. We cannot predict whether the FCC will adopt rules that would restrict our ability to acquire additional stations.

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Changes to Application and Assignment Procedures.    FCC rules  give Native American tribes a priority to obtain broadcast radio licenses in tribal communities. The rules provide an opportunity for tribes to establish new service specifically designed to offer programming that meets the needs of tribal citizens. In addition, the rules modify the FCC’s radio application and assignment procedures, assisting qualified applicants to more rapidly introduce new radio service to the public. These modifications (1) prohibit an AM applicant that obtains a construction permit through a dispositive Section 307(b) preference from downgrading the service level that led to the dispositive preference; (2) require technical proposals for new or major change AM facilities filed with Form 175 (i.e., FCC “short-form” Auction) applications to meet certain minimum technical standards to be eligible for further auction processing; and (3) give FCC operating bureaus authority to cap filing window applications. In 2011, the FCC released its Third Report and Order which limits eligibility for authorizations associated with allotments added to the FM Table of Allotments using the “Tribal Priority” to the tribes whom the Tribal Priority was intended to benefit. In October 2018, the FCC released a “Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” as part of its ongoing effort to assist AM broadcast stations in providing full-time service to their communities. The FCC sought comment on technical proposals to reduce nighttime interference afforded to wide-area “Class A” AM radio stations to enable more local AM stations to increase their nighttime service. The Company has no Class A AM radio stations, but has Class B, Class C and Class D AM radio stations, some of which might benefit if the FCC changes its rules as proposed. In 2018, the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry on whether to issue an NPRM that could lead to creation of a new Class C4 FM station that would allow use of power of up to 12 kW ERP, but the matter remains pending before the FCC.

The Company pays for the use of music broadcast on its stations by obtaining licenses from organizations called performing rights organizations (“PRO”) (e.g. Broadcast Music, Inc., American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers SESAC, LLC, and Global Music Rights LLC), which, in turn pay composers, authors and publishers for their works. Federal law grants a performance right for sound recordings in favor of recording companies and performing artists for non-interactive digital transmissions and Internet radio. As a result, users of music, including the Company, are required to pay royalties for these uses through Sound Exchange, a non-profit performance rights organization. (Other PROs could be formed, which could increase the royalties we pay.) Periodically, bills have been introduced in Congress, that if passed, would have required the Company to pay additional fees to an organization called MusicFirst which would distribute the money to other entities. Efforts continue by certain organizations to persuade Congress to enact a law that would require such payments. Periodically, bills have been introduced in Congress that, if adopted, would require the Company to pay additional fees to one or more organizations that would distribute the money to performers or other entities. The American Music Fairness Act was introduced on February 2, 2023, in both the Senate and House of Representatives (118th Congress). (A similar Bill died in the 117th Congress.) The Act would require radio stations to have an additional license to publicly perform certain sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board would periodically determine the royalty rates for such a license. Terrestrial broadcast stations, and the owners of such stations, that fall below certain revenue thresholds would pay certain flat fees, instead of the board-established rate, for a license.

In late 2018, Congress passed the “Music Modernization Act” which was signed into law by the President. The law (1) improves compensation to songwriters and streamlined how their music is licensed; (2) enables legacy artists (who recorded music before 1972) to be paid royalties when their music is played on digital radio; and (3) provides a consistent legal process for studio professionals, including record producers and engineers to receive royalties for their contributions to music that they help to create. The law creates a blanket license for digital music providers to make permanent downloads, limited downloads, and interactive streams, creates a collective (“Mechanical Rights Collective”) to administer the blanket license, and makes various improvements to royalty rate proceedings. This law could impose an additional financial burden on the Company, but the extent of the burden depends on how the fee payment requirement is structured.

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Proposal to Mandate Broadcasters to Participate in the Disaster Information Reporting System (“DIRS”) and Network Outage Reporting System (“NORS”). In an NPRM, Resilient Networks; Amendments to Part 4 of the Commission’s Rules Concerning Disruptions to Communications; New Part 4 of the Commission’s Rules Concerning Disruptions to Communications, 36 FCC Rcd 14802 (2021), the FCC sought comment on measures to help ensure that communications services remain operational when disasters strike. The NPRM asks whether the FCC should adopt rules making participation in the DIRS and NORS mandatory. On January 4, 2024, the FCC made public a proposed “Second Further NPRM” to inquire whether to require TV and radio broadcasters, satellite providers, and broadband Internet access service providers to report in NORS and/or DIRS. Implementation of DIRS and NORS by the Company could result in significant costs, but the Company cannot predict whether the rules will be adopted and if so, the form they may take.

Proposed Changes.   The FCC has under consideration, and may in the future consider and adopt, new laws, regulations and policies regarding a wide variety of matters that could, directly or indirectly, affect us and the operation and ownership of our broadcast properties. Application processing rules adopted by the FCC might require us to apply for facilities modifications to our standard broadcast stations in future “window” periods for filing applications or result in the stations being “locked in” with their present facilities. The FCC is authorized to use auctions for the allocation of radio broadcast spectrum frequencies for commercial use. The implementation of this law could require us to bid for the use of certain frequencies.

Information About Our Executive Officers

Our current executive officers are:

Name

    

Age

    

Position

Christopher S. Forgy

 

63

 

President, Chief Executive Officer; Director

Samuel D. Bush

 

66

 

Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Catherine A. Bobinski

 

64

 

Senior Vice President/Finance, Chief Accounting Officer and Corporate Controller

Wayne Leland

 

59

 

Senior Vice President of Operations

Officers are elected annually by our Board of Directors and serve at the discretion of the Board. Set forth below is information with respect to our executive officers.

Mr. Forgy has been President and Chief Executive Officer since December 2022. He was previously our Senior Vice President of Operations from May 2018 until his appointment to President and Chief Executive Officer. He was President/General Manager of our Columbus, Ohio market from 2010 to 2018 and was Director of Sales of our Columbus, Ohio market from 1995 to 2006. He has been with Saga for over 20 years..

Mr. Bush has been Senior Vice President since 2002 and Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer since September 1997. He was Vice President from 1997 to 2002. From 1988 to 1997 he held various positions with the Media Finance Group at AT&T Capital Corporation, including senior vice president.

Ms. Bobinski has been Senior Vice President/Finance since March 2012 and Chief Accounting Officer and Corporate Controller since September 1991. She was Vice President from March 1999 to March 2012. Ms. Bobinski is a certified public accountant.

Mr. Leland was promoted to Senior Vice President of Operations effective January 2023. He was President/General Manager of our Norfolk, Virginia market from 2011 to 2022. He has been with Saga for 11 years and has been in the broadcasting industry since 1986.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

The more prominent risks and uncertainties inherent in our business are described in more detail below. However, these are not the only risks and uncertainties we face. Our business may also face additional risks and uncertainties that are unknown to us at this time.

General Risks Related to the Economy

Continued Uncertain Financial and Economic Conditions may have an Adverse Impact on our Business, Results of Operations or Financial Condition

We derive revenues from the sale of advertising and expenditures by advertisers tend to be cyclical and are reflective of economic conditions. Periods of a slowing economy, recession or economic uncertainty may be accompanied by a decrease in advertising. Financial and economic conditions continue to be uncertain over the longer term and the continuation or worsening of such conditions, including prolonged or increased inflationary developments, could reduce consumer confidence and have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and/or financial condition. If consumer confidence were to decline, this decline could negatively affect our advertising customers' businesses and their advertising budgets. In addition, volatile economic conditions could have a negative impact on our industry or the industries of our customers who advertise on our stations, resulting in reduced advertising sales. Furthermore, it may be possible that actions taken by any governmental or regulatory body for the purpose of stabilizing the economy or financial markets will not achieve their intended effect. In addition to any negative direct consequences to our business or results of operations arising from these financial and economic developments, some of these actions may adversely affect financial institutions, capital providers, advertisers or other consumers on whom we rely, including our access to future capital or financing arrangements necessary to support our business. Our inability to obtain financing in amounts and at times necessary could make it more difficult or impossible to meet our obligations or otherwise take actions in our best interests.

We May be Adversely Affected by the Effects of Inflation

Inflation has the potential to adversely affect our liquidity, business, financial condition and results of operations by increasing our overall cost structure, particularly if we are unable to achieve commensurate increases in the prices we charge our customers. The existence of inflation in the economy has resulted in, and may continue to result in, higher interest rates, increased cost of labor and other similar effects. As a result of inflation, we have experienced and may continue to experience, cost increases. Although we may take measures to mitigate the impact of this inflation, if these measures are not effective, our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity could be materially adversely affected. Even if such measures are effective, there could be a difference between the timing of when these beneficial actions impact our results of operation and when the cost of inflation is incurred.

Our Business and Operations Could be Adversely Affected by Health Epidemics, Pandemics or Similar Outbreaks, Natural Disasters and Other Catastrophes, Impacting the Markets and Communities in which we and our Partners, Advertisers, and Users Operate

We face various risks related to health epidemics, pandemics, or similar outbreaks, natural disasters and other catastrophes that are beyond our control, which have materially and adversely affected our business and may continue to materially and adversely affect our results of operations, liquidity and financial condition. The extent of the impact of health epidemics, pandemics or similar outbreaks, natural disasters and other catastrophes in the future, on our business, including our ability to execute our near-term and long-term business strategies and initiatives in the expected time frame, will depend on numerous factors that we may not be able to accurately predict or assess, including the negative impact on the economy and economic activity, changes in advertising customers and consumer behavior, short and longer-term impact on the levels of consumer confidence; actions governments, businesses and individuals take in response to such outbreaks, and any resulting macroeconomic conditions; and how quickly economies recover after such outbreaks or pandemics subside.

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The effects of health epidemics, pandemics or similar outbreaks, natural disasters and other catastrophes in the future, may also impact financial markets and corporate credit markets which could adversely impact our access to financing or the terms of any such financing. To the extent pandemics or outbreaks adversely affect our business and financial results, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks described herein.

The Success of Our Business is Dependent Upon Advertising Revenues, which are Seasonal and Cyclical, and also Fluctuate as a Result of a Number of Factors, Some of Which are Beyond Our Control.

Our primary source of revenue is the sale of advertising. Our ability to sell advertising depends, among other things, on:

economic conditions in the areas where our stations are located and in the nation as a whole;
national and local demand for radio and digital advertising;
the popularity of our programming;
changes in the population demographics in the areas where our stations are located;
local and national advertising price fluctuations, which can be affected by the availability of programming, the popularity of programming, and the relative supply of and demand for commercial advertising;
the capability and effectiveness of our sales organization;
our competitors' activities, including increased competition from other advertising-based mediums;
decisions by advertisers to withdraw or delay planned advertising expenditures for any reason; and
other factors beyond our control.

Our operations and revenues also tend to be seasonal in nature, with generally lower revenue generated in the first quarter of the year and generally higher revenue generated in the second and fourth quarters of the year. This seasonality causes and will likely continue to cause a variation in our quarterly operating results. Such variations could have a material effect on the timing of our cash flows. In addition, our revenues tend to fluctuate between years, consistent with, among other things, increased advertising expenditures in even-numbered years by political candidates, political parties and special interest groups.

We Depend on Key Stations

Historically our top five markets when combined represented 36%, 38%, and 39% of our net operating revenue for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. Accordingly, we may have greater exposure to adverse events or conditions that affect the economy in any of these markets, which could have a material adverse effect on our revenue, results of operations and financial condition.

Local, National and Global Economic Conditions May Affect our Advertising Revenue

Our financial results are dependent primarily on our ability to generate advertising revenue through rates charged to advertisers. The advertising rates a station is able to charge are affected by many factors, including the general strength of the local and national economies. Generally, advertising declines during periods of economic recession or downturns in the economy. Our revenue has been and is likely to be adversely affected during such periods, whether they occur on a global level, national level or in the geographic markets in which we operate. During such periods we may also be required to reduce our advertising rates in order to attract available advertisers. Such a decline in advertising rates could also have a material adverse effect on our revenue, results of operations and financial condition.

The ongoing supply chain and labor shortage issues could result in an adverse impact on our business due to our customer’s reduction in advertising spending as their businesses are negatively impacted by low inventories, product delays, and labor shortages resulting in reduced revenue.

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The Russia-Ukraine war and the conflict in Gaza have created not only great devastation but also a worldwide instability that could impact economies across the globe. While direct impacts to our business are limited, the indirect impacts to our customers could impact demand for advertising and other indirect impacts could arise. In addition, the impact of other current macro-economic factors on our business, including inflation, supply chain constraints and geopolitical events, is uncertain.

Risks Related to Our Financing

We May Have Substantial Indebtedness and Debt Service Requirements

While we currently have no debt outstanding at December 31, 2023 we have previously borrowed and may borrow to finance acquisitions and for other corporate purposes. If we borrow in the future, our leverage could make us vulnerable to an increase in interest rates, particularly related to the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) as outlined in our new credit facility amendment, a downturn in our operating performance, or a decline in general economic conditions. Our credit facility is subject to mandatory prepayment requirements, including but not limited to, certain sales of assets, certain insurance proceeds, certain debt issuances and certain sales of equity. Any outstanding balance under the credit facility will be due on the maturity date of December 19, 2027. We believe that cash flows from operations will be sufficient to meet any debt service requirements for interest and scheduled payments of principal under the credit facility in the future. However, if such cash flow is not sufficient, we may be required to sell additional equity securities, refinance our obligations or dispose of one or more of our properties in order to make such scheduled payments. We cannot be sure that we would be able to affect any such transactions on favorable terms, if at all.

Variable-Rate Indebtedness Exposes us to Interest Rate Risk, which could Cause Our Debt Service Obligations to Increase Significantly.

Certain of our secured indebtedness, including borrowings under our existing credit facility, is or is expected to be, as applicable, subject to variable rates of interest and expose us to interest rate risk. If interest rates increase, our debt service obligations on the variable-rate indebtedness would increase and our net loss would increase, even though the amount borrowed under the facility remained the same. As of December 31, 2022, we had no outstanding variable-rate debt. However, if and to the extent we borrow in the future, an unfavorable movement in interest rates, primarily SOFR, could result in higher interest expense and cash payments for us. Although we may enter into interest rate hedges, involving the partial or full (i) exchange of floating for fixed-rate interest payments or (ii) obtaining an interest rate cap, to reduce interest rate volatility, we cannot provide assurance that we will enter into such arrangements or that they will successfully mitigate such interest rate volatility. SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash in the overnight U.S treasury repo market, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has published the daily rate since 2018.

Our Debt Covenants Restrict our Financial and Operational Flexibility

Our credit facility contains a number of financial covenants which, among other things, require us to maintain specified financial ratios and impose certain limitations on us with respect to investments, additional indebtedness, dividends, distributions, guarantees, liens and encumbrances. Our ability to meet these financial ratios can be affected by operating performance or other events beyond our control, and we cannot assure you that we will meet those ratios. Certain events of default under our credit facility could allow the lenders to declare all amounts outstanding to be immediately due and payable and, therefore, could have a material adverse effect on our business. We have pledged substantially all of our assets (excluding our FCC licenses and certain other assets) in support of the credit facility and each of our subsidiaries has guaranteed the credit facility and has pledged substantially all of their assets (excluding their FCC licenses and certain other assets) in support of the credit facility.

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Risks Related to the Radio Broadcasting Industry

Our Stations Must Compete for Advertising Revenues in Their Respective Markets

Radio broadcasting is a highly competitive business. Our stations compete for listeners and advertising revenues within their respective markets directly with other radio stations, as well as with other media, such as broadcast radio (as applicable), cable television and/or radio, satellite television and/or satellite radio systems, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, the Internet, coupons and billboard advertising. Audience ratings and market shares are subject to change, and any change in a particular market could have a material adverse effect on the revenue of our stations located in that market. While we already compete in some of our markets with other stations with similar programming formats, if another radio station in a market were to convert its programming format to a format similar to one of our stations, or if a new station were to adopt a comparable format or if an existing competitor were to strengthen its operations, our stations could experience a reduction in ratings and/or advertising revenue and could incur increased promotional and other expenses. Other radio broadcasting companies may enter into the markets in which we operate or may operate in the future. These companies may be larger and have more financial resources than we have. We cannot assure you that any of our stations will be able to maintain or increase their current audience ratings and advertising revenues.

We Depend on Key Personnel

Our business is partially dependent upon the performance of certain key individuals, particularly Christopher S. Forgy, our President and CEO. Although we have entered into employment and non-competition agreements with Mr. Forgy, which terminate on December 7, 2025, and certain other key personnel, including on-air personalities, we cannot be sure that such key personnel will remain with us. We can give no assurance that all or any of these employees will remain with us or will retain their audiences. Many of our key employees are at-will employees who are under no legal obligation to remain with us. Our competitors may choose to extend offers to any of these individuals on terms which we may be unwilling to meet. In addition, any or all of our key employees may decide to leave for a variety of personal or other reasons beyond our control. Furthermore, the popularity and audience loyalty of our key on-air personalities is highly sensitive to rapidly changing public tastes. A loss of such popularity or audience loyalty is beyond our control and could limit our ability to generate revenues.

Our Success Depends on our Ability to Identify and Integrate Acquired Stations

As part of our strategy, we have pursued and may continue to pursue acquisitions of additional radio stations, subject to the terms of our credit facility. Competitors may be able to outbid us for acquisitions. As a result of these and other factors, our ability to identify and consummate future acquisitions is uncertain.

Our consummation of all future acquisitions is subject to various conditions, including FCC and other regulatory approvals. The FCC must approve any transfer of control or assignment of broadcast licenses. Such acquisitions could be delayed by shutdowns of the U.S. Government. In addition, acquisitions may encounter intense scrutiny under federal and state antitrust laws. Our future acquisitions may be subject to notification under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and to a waiting period and possible review by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Any delays, injunctions, conditions or modifications by any of these federal agencies could have a negative effect on us and result in the abandonment of all or part of otherwise attractive acquisition opportunities. We cannot predict whether we will be successful in identifying future acquisition opportunities or what the consequences will be of any acquisitions.

Certain of our acquisitions may prove unprofitable and fail to generate anticipated cash flows. In addition, the success of any completed acquisition will depend on our ability to effectively integrate the acquired stations. The process of integrating acquired stations may involve numerous risks, including difficulties in the assimilation of operations, the diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns, risk of entering new markets, and the potential loss of key employees of the acquired stations.

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The Royalties We Pay to Copyright Owners Could Increase Significantly, and Proposed Legislation Could Require Radio Broadcasters to Pay Royalties to Record Labels and Recording Artists

We pay royalties to copyright owners of musical compositions (typically song composers and publishers) whenever we broadcast or stream musical compositions. These royalties are paid through ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, GMR and Sound Exchange. The rates at which we pay royalties to copyright owners are privately negotiated or set pursuant to a regulatory process. Increased royalty rates could significantly increase our expenses, which could adversely affect our business. There is no guarantee that the licenses and associated royalty rates that currently are available to us will be available to us in the future. In addition, legislation has been previously introduced in Congress that would require radio broadcasters to pay a performance royalty to record labels and performing artists for use of their recorded songs. The proposed legislation would add an additional layer of royalties to be paid directly to the record labels and artists. It is currently unknown what proposed legislation, if any, will become law, whether industry groups will enter into an agreement with respect to performance fees, and what significance this royalty would have on our results from operations, cash flows or financial position.

Risks Related to Regulation of Our Business

Future Impairment of our FCC Broadcasting Licenses Could Affect our Operating Results

As of December 31, 2023, our FCC broadcasting licenses represented 39% of our total assets. We are required to test our FCC broadcasting licenses for impairment on an annual basis, or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances indicate that our FCC broadcasting licenses might be impaired which may result in future impairment losses. For further discussion, see Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates included with this Form 10-K.

Our Business is Subject to Extensive Federal Regulation

The broadcasting industry is subject to extensive federal regulation which, among other things, requires approval by the FCC of transfers, assignments and renewals of broadcasting licenses, limits the number of broadcasting properties that may be acquired within a specific market, and regulates programming and operations. For a detailed description of the material regulations applicable to our business, see “Federal Regulation of Radio Broadcasting” and “Other FCC Requirements” in Item 1 of this Form 10-K. Failure to comply with these regulations could, under certain circumstances and among other things, result in the denial of renewal or revocation of FCC licenses, shortened license renewal terms, monetary forfeitures or other penalties which would adversely affect our profitability. Changes in ownership requirements could limit our ability to own or acquire stations in certain markets.

New Federal Regulations or Fees Could Affect our Broadcasting Operations

There has been proposed legislation in the past and there could be again in the future that requires radio broadcasters to pay additional fees such as a spectrum fee for the use of the spectrum or a royalty fee to record labels and performing artists for use of their recorded music. Currently, we pay royalties to song composers, publishers, and performers indirectly through third parties. Any proposed legislation that becomes law could add an additional layer of royalties to be paid directly to the record labels and artists. These proposed royalties have been the subject of considerable debate and activity by the broadcast industry and other parties affected by the legislation. It is currently unknown what impact any potential required royalty payments would have on our results of operations, cash flows or financial position.

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The FCC’s Vigorous Enforcement of Indecency Rules Could Affect our Broadcasting Operations

Federal law regulates the broadcast of obscene, indecent or profane material. The FCC has increased its enforcement efforts relating to the regulation of indecency violations, and Congress has increased the penalties for broadcasting obscene, indecent or profane programming, and these penalties may potentially subject broadcasters to license revocation, renewal or qualification proceedings in the event that they broadcast such material. The FCC has expanded the scope of items considered indecent to include material that could be considered “blasphemy,” “personally reviling epithets,” “profanity” and vulgar or coarse words, amounting to a nuisance. Effective January 15, 2024, the maximum forfeiture penalty (after 2024 annual inflation adjustment) for an indecency violation is $495,500 per incident and $4,573,840 for a continuing violation arising from a single act or failure to act. In March 2015, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for the then maximum forfeiture amount of $325,000 against a television station for violation of the indecency laws. In addition, the FCC’s heightened focus on the indecency regulations against the broadcast industry may encourage third parties to oppose our license renewal applications or applications for consent to acquire broadcast stations. Because the FCC may investigate indecency complaints prior to notifying a licensee of the existence of a complaint, a licensee may not have knowledge of a complaint unless and until the complaint results in the issuance of a formal FCC letter of inquiry or notice of apparent liability for forfeiture. We may in the future become subject to inquiries or proceedings related to our stations’ broadcast of obscene, indecent or profane material. To the extent that any inquiries or other proceedings result in the imposition of fines, a settlement with the FCC, revocation of any of our station licenses or denials of license renewal applications, our result of operations and business could be materially adversely affected.

We are Subject to a Series of Risks Regarding Scrutiny of Environmental, Social and Governance Matters

Companies across industries are facing increasing scrutiny from a variety of stakeholders related to their environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) practices. For example, various groups produce ESG scores or ratings based at least in part on a company’s ESG disclosures, and certain market participants, including institutional investors, use such ratings to assess companies’ ESG profiles. There are also increasing regulatory expectations for ESG matters. Various policymakers, including the SEC, have adopted (or are considering adopting) requirements to disclose certain climate-related or other ESG information, which may require additional costs to comply. This and other stakeholder expectations will likely lead to increased costs as well as scrutiny that could heighten the risk. Additionally, many of our customers, business partners, and suppliers may be subject to similar expectations, which may augment or create additionally risks, including risks that may not be known to us.

Risks Related to Technology and Cybersecurity

New Technologies May Affect our Broadcasting Operations

The FCC has and is considering ways to introduce new technologies to the broadcasting industry, including satellite and terrestrial delivery of digital audio broadcasting and the standardization of available technologies which significantly enhance the sound quality of AM broadcasters. We are unable to predict the effect such technologies may have on our broadcasting operations. The capital expenditures necessary to implement such technologies could be substantial.

Information Technology and Cybersecurity Failures or Data Security Breaches Could Harm Our Business

Any internal technology error or failure impacting systems hosted internally or externally, or any large-scale external interruption in technology infrastructure we depend on, such as power, telecommunications or the Internet, may disrupt our technology network. Any individual, sustained or repeated failure of technology could impact our customer service and result in increased costs or reduced revenues. Our technology systems and related data also may be vulnerable to a variety of sources of interruption due to events beyond our control, including natural disasters, terrorist attacks, telecommunications failures, computer viruses, hackers and other security issues. While we have in place, and continue to invest in, technology security initiatives and disaster recovery plans, these measures may not be adequate or implemented properly to prevent a business disruption and its adverse financial impact and consequences to our business' reputation.

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In addition, as a part of our ordinary business operations, we may collect and store sensitive data, including personal information of our clients, listeners and employees. The secure operation of the networks and systems on which this type of information is stored, processed and maintained is critical to our business operations and strategy. Any compromise of our technology systems resulting from attacks by hackers or breaches due to employee error or malfeasance could result in the loss, disclosure, misappropriation of or access to clients’, listeners’, employees’ or business partners’ information. Any such loss, disclosure, misappropriation or access could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability or regulatory penalties under laws protecting the privacy of personal information, disrupt operations and damage our reputation, any or all of which could adversely affect our business.

To meet business objectives, the Company relies on both internal information technology (IT) systems and networks, and those of third parties and their vendors, to process and store sensitive data, including confidential research, business plans, financial information, intellectual property, and personal data that may be subject to legal protection. The extensive information security and cybersecurity threats, which affect companies globally, pose a risk to the security and availability of these IT systems and networks, and the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the Company’s sensitive data. The Company continually assesses these threats and makes investments to increase internal protection, detection, and response capabilities, as well as ensure the Company’s third-party providers have required capabilities and controls, to address this risk.

In September 2021, one of our third-party service providers of a critical application used in our business, was the victim of a ransomware cyberattack. However, the Company’s data was not breached in connection with this incident and the incident did not have a material impact on the Company’s business or operations.

To date, the Company has not experienced any material impact to the business or operations resulting from information or cybersecurity attacks; however, because of the frequently changing attack techniques, along with the increased volume and sophistication of the attacks, there remains the potential for the Company to be adversely impacted. This impact could result in reputational, competitive, operational or other business harm as well as financial costs and regulatory action. The Company currently maintains cybersecurity insurance in the event of an information security or cyber incident; however, the coverage may not be sufficient to cover all financial losses nor may it be available in the future.

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Risks Related to the Ownership of Our Stock

The Company is No Longer Controlled by our President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman

Edward K. Christian, our founder and former President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, passed away on August 19, 2022. Mr. Christian held approximately 65% of the combined voting power of our Common Stock (based on Class B Common Stock generally being entitled to ten votes per share, with certain exceptions, but not including options to acquire Class B Common Stock). As a result, Mr. Christian was generally able to control the vote on most matters submitted to the vote of shareholders and, therefore, was able to direct our management and policies, except with respect to (i) the election of the two Class A directors, (ii) those matters where the shares of our Class B Common Stock are only entitled to one vote per share, and (iii) other matters requiring a class vote under the provisions of our certificate of incorporation, bylaws or applicable law. Upon Mr. Christian’s passing on August 19, 2022, his Class B shares were transferred into an estate planning trust and that transfer resulted in an automatic conversion of each Class B share he held into one fully paid and non-assessable Class A Share. Those Class A Shares have the same voting rights as all other Class A Shares, and the estate has approximately 16% voting rights after the conversion of the shares from Class B Shares to Class A Shares. The Company’s subsidiaries holding FCC licenses timely applied to the FCC for consent to transfer of control of the subsidiaries from Mr. Christian to the shareholders of the Company, and those applications were routinely approved by the FCC on December 20, 2023. As a result of the change in voting control, the Company has entered into a period of significant transition and is potentially more vulnerable to activist investors or hostile takeover attempts. If the Company is unable to manage this transition effectively, it may have an adverse impact on the Company and its shareholders.

We May Experience Volatility in the Market Price of our Common Stock

The market price of our common stock has fluctuated in the past and may continue to be volatile. In addition to stock market fluctuations due to economic or other factors, the volatility of our shares may be influenced by lower trading volume and concentrated ownership relative to many of our publicly-held competitors. Because several of our shareholders own significant portions of our outstanding shares, our stock is relatively less liquid and therefore more susceptible to price fluctuations than many other companies’ shares. If these shareholders were to sell all or a portion of their holdings of our common stock, then the market price of our common stock could be negatively affected. Investors should be aware that they could experience short-term volatility in our stock if such shareholders decide to sell all or a portion of their holdings of our common stock at once or within a short period of time.

We are a Smaller Reporting Company and Intend to Avail Ourselves of Certain Reduced Disclosure Requirements Applicable to Smaller Reporting Companies, which could make our Common Stock Less Attractive to Investors.

We are a smaller reporting company, as defined in the Exchange Act, and we intend to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not applicable to smaller reporting companies, including reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile. We intend to take advantage of certain of these reporting exemptions until we are no longer a smaller reporting company. We will remain a smaller reporting company until the aggregate market value of our outstanding common stock held by non-affiliates as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter is $250 million or more.

Item 1B.   Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

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Item 1C. Cybersecurity

Risk Management and Strategy

We have established processes and policies for assessing, identifying and managing material risks posed by cybersecurity threats. Our processes and policies are based upon the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework and include a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan (“CIRP”). This does not imply that we meet any particular technical standards, specifications, or requirements, only that we use the NIST as a guide to help us identify, assess, and manage cybersecurity risks relevant to our business.

Our cybersecurity risk management processes, policies and CIRP are focused on (1) developing organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risks, (2) applying safeguards to protect our systems, (3) detecting the occurrence of a cybersecurity incident, (4) responding to a cybersecurity incident and (5) recovering from a cybersecurity incident. Where appropriate, these processes and policies are integrated into our overall risk management systems and processes. For instance, all of our employees with network access are required to complete information security and privacy training on an annual basis. We are continuously working to improve our information technology systems and provide employee awareness training around phishing, malware, and other cyber risks to enhance our levels of protection. We have engaged independent consultants and other third-parties to assist us in establishing and improving our policies. Our processes and policies include the identification of those third-party relationships which have the greatest potential to expose us to cybersecurity threats and, upon identification, we conduct additional due diligence as a part of establishing those relationships. We also maintain insurance coverage for cybersecurity insurance as part of our overall insurance portfolio. For additional information concerning cybersecurity risks we face, see Item lA Risk Factors - Information Technology and Cybersecurity Failures or Data Security Breaches Could Harm Our Business.

Governance

Cybersecurity and risks related to our information technology and other computer resources are an important focus of our Board of Directors' risk oversight. The Board has created a Cybersecurity Sub Committee of our Audit Committee for oversight of cybersecurity and other information technology risks. Our Cybersecurity Sub Committee of our Audit Committee receives materials on a frequent basis to address the identification and status of information technology cybersecurity risks, and management, including our Chief Technology Officer (CTO), provides periodic updates to our Cybersecurity Sub Committee. The Sub Committee reports to the full Board regarding its activities. The full Board also receives briefings from management on our cyber risk management program.

The CTO is responsible for managing our information security team to ensure they are assessing and managing cybersecurity risks in accordance with our processes and procedures. Our CTO has approximately 25 years' experience managing enterprise information technology systems.

Our management team supervises efforts to prevent, detect, mitigate and remediate cybersecurity risks and incidents through various means, which may include briefings from internal security personnel; threat intelligence and other information obtained from governmental, public or private sources, including external consultants engaged by us; and alerts and reports produced by security tools deployed in the IT environment.

Pursuant to our CIRP, when a cybersecurity event has been identified through our detection processes, it is assessed in order to determine whether the event is a cybersecurity incident. Our CIRP designates the primary manager of a cybersecurity incident, describes the parties who should be informed about the incident and outlines the processes for containment, eradication, recovery and resolution of the incident. Depending on the severity and impact of a cybersecurity threat, members of our senior management team and Board of Directors are notified of an incident and kept informed of the mitigation and remediation of the incident.

31

Item 2.  Properties

Our corporate headquarters is located in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. The types of properties required to support each of our stations include offices, studios, and transmitter and antenna sites. A station’s studios are generally housed with its offices in business districts. The transmitter sites and antenna sites are generally located so as to provide maximum market coverage for our stations’ broadcast signals.

As of December 31, 2023, the studios and offices of 25 of our 28 operating locations, including our corporate headquarters in Michigan, are located in facilities we own. The remaining studios and offices are located in leased facilities with lease terms that expire in 1.7 years to 8.0 years. We own or lease our transmitter and antenna sites, with lease terms that expire in 1 year to 67 years. We do not anticipate any difficulties in renewing those leases that expire within the next five years or in leasing other space, if required.

No one property is material to our overall operations. We believe that our properties are in good condition and suitable for our operations.

We own substantially all of the equipment used in our broadcasting business.

Item 3.    Legal Proceedings

The Company is subject to various outstanding claims which arise in the ordinary course of business, and to other legal proceedings. Management anticipates that any potential liability of the Company, which may arise out of or with respect to these matters, will not materially affect the Company’s financial statements.

Item 4.    Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

PART II

Item 5.    Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Our Class A Common Stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Market of the NASDAQ Stock Market LLC under the ticker symbol SGA.

The closing price for our Class A Common Stock on March 5, 2024 as reported by the NASDAQ was $23.39. As of March 5, 2024, there were approximately 168 holders of record of our Class A Common Stock. This figure does not include an estimate of the indeterminate number of beneficial holders whose shares may be held of record by brokerage firms and clearing agencies.

Dividends

During 2023, our Board of Directors declared four quarterly cash dividends and one special dividend totaling $3.00 per share on our Classes A shares. These dividends totaling approximately $18.6 million were accrued or paid during 2023. See Note 1 of the financial statements for specific details on the dividends.

During 2022, our Board of Directors declared four quarterly cash dividends and two special dividends totaling $4.86 per share on our Classes A and B shares. These dividends totaling approximately $29.6 million were accrued or paid during 2022. In December 2022, the Board of Directors adopted a new variable dividend policy for the allocation of cash flows aligned with the Company’s goals of maintaining a strong balance sheet, increasing cash returns to shareholders, and continuing to grow the Company through strategic acquisitions. See Note 1 of the financial statements for specific details on the dividends.

32

During 2021, our Board of Directors declared three quarterly cash dividends and a special dividend totaling $0.98 per share on our Classes A and B shares. These dividends totaling approximately $5.9 million were accrued or paid during 2021. See Note 1 of the financial statements for specific details on the dividends.

The Company currently intends to declare regular quarterly cash dividends as well as variable dividends in accordance with the terms of its variable dividend policy. As previously reported, our Board adopted a variable dividend policy for the allocation of available cash aligned with the goals of maintaining a strong balance sheet, increasing cash returns to shareholders, and continuing to grow the Company through strategic acquisitions. The Company may also declare special dividends and implementation of stock buybacks in future periods. The declaration and payment of any future dividend, whether fixed, special, or based on the variable policy, or the implementation of any stock buyback program will remain at the full discretion of the Board and will depend on the Company’s financial results, cash requirements, future expectations, and other pertinent factors.

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

Not applicable.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

The following table summarizes our repurchases of our Class A Common Stock during the three months ended December 31, 2023. Shares repurchased during the quarter were from the retention of shares for the payment of withholding taxes related to the vesting of restricted stock.

Total Number

Approximate

of

Dollar

Shares

Value of

Purchased

Shares

Total 

Average

as Part of

that May Yet be

Number

Price

Publicly

Purchased

of Shares

Paid per

Announced

Under the

Period

    

Purchased (1)

    

Share

    

Program

    

Program (2)

October 1 - October 31, 2023

$

$

18,203,509

November 1 - November 30, 2023

10,475

$

20.02

$

17,993,800

December 1 - December 31, 2023

799

$

21.37

$

17,976,728

Total

 

11,274

$

20.12

 

$

17,976,728

(1)All shares were purchased other than through a publicly announced plan or program. The shares were forfeited to the Company for payment of tax withholding obligations related to the vesting of restricted stock.
(2)We have a Stock Buy-Back Program which allows us to purchase our Class A Common Stock. In February 2013, our Board of Directors authorized an increase in the amount committed to the Buy-Back Program from $60 million to approximately $75.8 million.

Performance Graph

We are a smaller reporting company as defined by Rule 12b-2 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and are no longer required to provide a performance graph.

Item 6. [Reserved]

33

Item 7.    Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

The following discussion should be read in conjunction with Item 1. Business and the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto of Saga Communications, Inc. and its subsidiaries contained elsewhere herein. The following discussion is presented on a consolidated basis. We serve twenty-seven radio markets (reporting units) that aggregate into one operating segment (Radio), which also qualifies as a reportable segment. We operate under one reportable business segment for which segment disclosure is consistent with the management decision-making process that determines the allocation of resources and the measuring of performance. Corporate general and administrative expenses, interest expense, write-off debt issuance costs, other (income) expense, and income tax provision are managed on a consolidated basis.

The discussion of our operating performance focuses on station operating income because we manage our stations primarily on station operating income. Operating performance is evaluated for each individual market.

We use certain financial measures that are not calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States of America (GAAP) to assess our financial performance. For example, we evaluate the performance of our markets based on “station operating income” (operating income plus corporate general and administrative expenses, depreciation and amortization, other operating (income) expenses, and impairment of intangible assets). Station operating income is generally recognized by the broadcasting industry as a measure of performance, is used by analysts who report on the performance of the broadcasting industry, and it serves as an indicator of the market value of a group of stations. In addition, we use it to evaluate individual stations, market-level performance, overall operations and as a primary measure for incentive based compensation of executives and other members of management. Station operating income is not necessarily indicative of amounts that may be available to us for debt service requirements, other commitments, reinvestment or other discretionary uses. Station operating income is not a measure of liquidity or of performance in accordance with GAAP, and should be viewed as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, our results of operations presented on a GAAP basis.

General

We are a media company primarily engaged in acquiring, developing and operating broadcast properties including opportunities complimentary to our core radio business including digital, e-commerce and non-traditional revenue initiatives. We actively seek and explore opportunities for expansion through the acquisition of additional broadcast properties. We review acquisition opportunities on an ongoing basis.

34

Radio Stations

Our radio stations’ primary source of revenue is from the sale of advertising for broadcast on our stations. Depending on the format of a particular radio station, there are a predetermined number of advertisements available to be broadcast each hour.

Most advertising contracts are short-term and generally run for a few weeks only. The majority of our revenue is generated from local advertising, which is sold primarily by each radio market’s sales staff. For the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, approximately 90%, 89% and 89%, respectively, of our radio stations’ gross revenue was from local advertising. To generate national advertising sales, we engage independent advertising sales representative firms that specialize in national sales for each of our broadcast markets.

Our revenue varies throughout the year. Advertising expenditures, our primary source of revenue, generally have been lowest during the winter months, which include the first quarter of each year. Political revenue was significantly lower in 2023 and 2021 due to the decreased number of national, state, and local elections in most of our markets as compared to 2022. Our gross political revenue for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021 was $944,000, $3,625,000 and $1,780,000, respectively. We expect political revenue in 2024 to increase from 2023 levels as a result of more elections in 2024 at the local, state and national levels.

Our net operating revenue, station operating expense and operating income vary from market to market based upon the market’s rank or size which is based upon population and the available radio advertising revenue in that particular market.

The broadcasting industry and advertising in general is influenced by the state of the overall economy, including unemployment rates, inflation, energy prices and consumer interest rates. Our stations broadcast primarily in small to midsize markets. Historically, these markets have been more stable than major metropolitan markets during downturns in advertising spending, but may not experience increases in such spending as significant as those in major metropolitan markets in periods of economic improvement.

Our financial results are dependent on a number of factors, the most significant of which is our ability to generate advertising revenue through rates charged to advertisers. The rates a station is able to charge are, in large part, based on a station’s ability to attract audiences in the demographic groups targeted by its advertisers. In a number of our markets, this is measured by periodic reports generated by independent national rating services. In the remainder of our markets it is measured by the results advertisers obtain through the actual running of an advertising schedule. Advertisers measure these results based on increased demand for their goods or services and/or actual revenues generated from such demand. Various factors affect the rate a station can charge, including the general strength of the local and national economies, population growth, ability to provide popular programming, local market competition, target marketing capability of radio compared to other advertising media, and signal strength.

When we acquire and/or begin to operate a station or group of stations we generally increase programming and advertising and promotion expenses to increase our share of our target demographic audience. Our strategy sometimes requires levels of spending commensurate with the revenue levels we plan on achieving in two to five years. During periods of economic downturns, or when the level of advertising spending is flat or down across the industry, this strategy may result in the appearance that our cost of operations are increasing at a faster rate than our growth in revenues, until such time as we achieve our targeted levels of revenue for the acquired station or group of stations.

The number of advertisements that can be broadcast without jeopardizing listening levels (and the resulting ratings) is limited in part by the format of a particular radio station. Our stations strive to maximize revenue by constantly managing the number of commercials available for sale and by adjusting prices based upon local market conditions and ratings. While there may be shifts from time to time in the number of advertisements broadcast during a particular time of the day, the total number of advertisements broadcast on a particular station generally does not vary significantly from year to year. Any change in our revenue, with the exception of those instances where stations are acquired or sold, is generally the result of inventory sell out ratios and pricing adjustments, which are made to ensure that the station efficiently utilizes available inventory.

35

Our radio stations employ a variety of programming formats. We periodically perform market research, including music evaluations, focus groups and strategic vulnerability studies. Because reaching a large and demographically attractive audience is crucial to a station’s financial success, we endeavor to develop strong listener loyalty. Our stations also employ audience promotions to further develop and secure a loyal following. We believe that the diversification of formats on our radio stations helps to insulate us from the effects of changes in musical tastes of the public on any particular format.

The primary operating expenses involved in owning and operating radio stations are employee salaries and related benefit costs, sales commissions, programming expenses, depreciation, and advertising and promotion expenses.

The radio broadcasting industry is subject to rapid technological change, evolving industry standards and the emergence of new media technologies and services. These new technologies and media are gaining advertising share against radio and other traditional media.

We are continuing to expand our digital initiative to provide a seamless experience across multiple platforms. Our goal is to allow our listeners to connect with our brands on demand wherever, however, and whenever they choose. We continue to create and expand opportunities for revenue generation through targeted digital advertising, online community news, entertainment and events and an array of digital services that include online promotions, mobile messaging, and email marketing.

During the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, our Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Norfolk, Virginia and Portland, Maine markets, when combined, represented approximately 36%, 38%, and 39%, respectively, of our consolidated net operating revenue. An adverse change in any of these radio markets or relative market position in those markets could have a significant impact on our operating results as a whole.

The following tables describe the percentage of our consolidated net operating revenue represented by each of these markets:

Percentage of Consolidated

 

Net Operating Revenue

 

for the Years

 

Ended December 31, 

 

    

2023

    

2022

    

2021

 

Market:

    

  

    

  

    

  

Columbus, Ohio

 

9

%  

10

%  

10

%

Des Moines, Iowa

 

5

%  

5

%  

6

%

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

11

%  

12

%  

11

%

Norfolk, Virginia

 

6

%  

6

%  

6

%

Portland, Maine

 

5

%  

5

%  

6

%

36

During the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, the radio stations in our five largest markets when combined, represented approximately 40%, 44% and 43%, respectively, of our consolidated station operating income. The following tables describe the percentage of our consolidated station operating income represented by each of these markets:

Percentage of Consolidated

Station Operating Income(*)

for the Years Ended

December 31, 

    

2023

    

2022

    

2021

 

Market:

  

    

  

    

  

Columbus, Ohio

10

%  

13

%  

12

%

Des Moines, Iowa

4

%  

4

%  

5

%

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

12

%  

14

%  

12

%

Norfolk, Virginia

9

%  

7

%  

7

%

Portland, Maine

5

%  

6

%  

7

%

(*)

Operating income plus corporate general and administrative expenses, depreciation and amortization, other operating (income) expenses, and impairment of intangible assets.

Results of Operations

The following tables summarize our results of operations for the three years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021.

Consolidated Results of Operations

2023 vs. 2022

2022 vs. 2021

 

Years Ended December 31, 

$ Increase

% Increase

$ Increase

% Increase

 

    

2023

    

2022

    

2021

    

(Decrease)

    

(Decrease)

    

(Decrease)

    

(Decrease)

 

(In thousands, except %’s and per share information)

 

Net operating revenue

    

$

112,773

    

$

114,893

    

$

108,343

    

$

(2,120)

    

(1.8)

%  

$

6,550

    

6.0

%

Station operating expense

 

90,199

 

87,537

 

83,245

 

2,662

 

3.0

%  

 

4,292

 

5.2

%

Corporate general and administrative

 

10,966

 

14,300

 

10,040

 

(3,334)

 

(23.3)

%  

 

4,260

 

42.4

%

Other operating expense (income), net

 

120

 

(14)

 

7

 

134

 

N/M

 

(21)

 

N/M

Operating income

 

11,488

 

13,070

 

15,051

 

(1,582)

 

(12.1)

%  

 

(1,981)

 

(13.2)

%

Interest expense

 

173

 

130

 

284

 

43

 

33.1

%  

 

(154)

 

(54.2)

%

Interest income

 

(1,441)

 

(410)

 

(16)

 

(1,031)

 

N/M

 

(394)

 

N/M

Other income

 

(119)

 

(652)

 

(634)

 

533

 

(82)

%  

 

(18)

 

N/M

Income before income tax expense

 

12,875

 

14,002

 

15,417

 

(1,127)

 

(8.0)

%  

 

(1,415)

 

(9.2)

%

Income tax provision

 

3,375

 

4,800

 

4,260

 

(1,425)

 

(29.7)

%  

 

540

 

12.7

%

Net income

$

9,500

$

9,202

$

11,157

$

298

 

3.2

%  

$

(1,955)

 

(17.5)

%

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

Earnings per share (diluted)

$

1.55

$

1.52

$

1.85

$

0.03

 

2.0

%  

$

(0.33)

 

(17.8)

%

N/M = Not Meaningful

37

Year Ended December 31, 2023 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2022

For the year ended December 31, 2023, consolidated net operating revenue was $112,773,000 compared with $114,893,000 for the year ended December 31, 2022, a decrease of $2,120,000 or 1.8%. The decrease in revenue in 2023 was due to decreases in gross political revenue of $2,681,000, and gross local revenue of $2,401,000 partially offset by increases in gross interactive revenue of $1,890,000, non-spot revenue of $679,000 and gross national revenue of $385,000 from 2022. The gross political revenue decreased due to a decrease in the number of national, state and local elections. The most significant decreases in gross local revenue occurred in our Charleston, South Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Ithaca, New York; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Portland, Maine and Springfield, Illinois markets partially offset by increases at our Asheville, North Carolina; Harrisonburg, Virginia and Ocala, Florida markets. The increase in gross interactive results is primarily due to an increase in our streaming revenue. The markets with the most significant increases in 2023 in non-spot events were Bellingham, Washington; Charleston, South Carolina; Ithaca, New York and Yankton, South Dakota. The most significant increases in gross national revenue occurred in our Charleston, South Carolina; Charlottesville, Virginia; Des Moines, Iowa; Ocala, Florida and Springfield, Massachusetts markets.

Station operating expense was $90,199,000 for the year ended December 31, 2023, compared with $87,537,000 for the year ended December 31, 2022, an increase of $2,662,000 or 3.0%. The increase in operating expenses was primarily a result of increases in compensation-related expenses, healthcare costs, sales survey expenses, utility expenses, building maintenance and repairs, and programming rights expenses of $1,605,000, $469,000, $314,000, $248,000, $235,000, and $172,000, respectively, partially offset by decreases in commission expenses of $383,000 from 2022.

We had operating income for the year ended December 31, 2023 of $11,488,000 compared to $13,070,000 for the year ended December 31, 2022, a decrease of $1,582,000. The decrease was a result of the decrease in net operating revenue and the increase in station operating expense, described above, a increase in other operating expense of $134,000 partially offset by a decrease in our corporate general and administrative expenses of $3,334,000 or 23.3%. We recorded a loss on sale of fixed assets of $120,000 in 2023 compared to a gain on sale of fixed assets of $14,000 in 2022. The decrease in corporate general and administrative expenses was primarily attributable to the $3.8 million expense recorded in the third quarter of 2022 related the employment agreement we had with our founder and former CEO, Mr. Christian, that was required upon his death. Additionally, we had a decrease of $1,020,000 in compensation-related expense partially offset by increase of $416,000 in insurance costs, $407,000 in directors’ fees, $379,000 in legal and other consulting fees, and $30,000 in travel and seminar related expenses.

We generated net income of $9,500,000 ($1.55 per share on a fully diluted basis) during the year ended December 31, 2023, compared to $9,202,000 ($1.52 per share on a fully diluted basis) for the year ended December 31, 2022, an increase of $298,000. The increase in net income is due to the decrease of operating income, described above, an increase in interest expense of $43,000, a decrease of other income of $533,000 offset by an increase in interest income of $1,031,000 and a decrease in income taxes of $1,425,000. The increase in interest expense is due to an increase in the interest rates attributable to our unused commitment fees and amortization of bank fees. The decrease in other income is primarily due to reimbursements from the FCC related to their spectrum auction of $115,000 in 2023 versus insurance proceeds in 2022 of $535,000 and reimbursements from the FCC related to their spectrum auction of $116,000 in 2022 as described in footnote 16 (Other Income). The increase in interest income is related to higher rates of return on money market accounts reflected as cash equivalents and from our short-term investment accounts which began in May 2022. The decrease in our income tax expense is due to the decreased in net income before income tax combined with the increase in rate in 2022 as a result of the permanent difference between book and taxable income related to the compensation paid to our founder and former CEO as described above and in footnote 6 (Income Taxes).

38

Year Ended December 31, 2022 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2021

For the year ended December 31, 2022, consolidated net operating revenue was $114,893,000 compared with $108,343,000 for the year ended December 31, 2021, an increase of $6,550,000 or 6.0%. The increase in revenue in 2022 was due to increases in gross local revenue of $2,284,000, gross political revenue of $1,846,000, non-spot revenue of $1,689,000, gross interactive revenue of $1,577,000, and gross barter revenue of $302,000 partially offset by a decrease in gross national revenue of $697,000 and an increase in agency commissions of $598,000 from 2021. The most significant increases in gross local revenue and in agency commissions occurred in our Asheville, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Ithaca, New York; and Manchester, New Hampshire markets. The gross political revenue increased due to an increase in the number of national, state and local elections. The increase in non-spot revenue is primarily due to us hosting more events again in 2022. The markets with the most significant increases in 2022 in non-spot events were Charleston, South Carolina; Clarksville, Tennessee; Hilton Head, South Carolina; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Portland, Maine and Yankton, South Dakota. The increase in gross interactive results is primarily due to an increase in our streaming and website content revenue. The decrease in gross national revenue was attributable to decreases at the majority of markets due to the focus on local market advertisers offset by increases at our Columbus, Ohio; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Portland, Maine markets.

Station operating expense was $87,537,000 for the year ended December 31, 2022, compared with $83,245,000 for the year ended December 31, 2021, an increase of $4,292,000 or 5.2%. The increase in operating expenses was primarily a result of increases in sales survey expenses, compensation related expenses, commission expense, bad debt expenses, barter expenses, music licensing fees, utilities, merchant account fees, and promotional expenses of $1,407,000, $965,000, $840,000, $352,000, $346,000, $311,000, $286,000, $153,000 and $113,000, respectively, partially offset by decreases in healthcare costs of $530,000 from 2021.

We had operating income for the year ended December 31, 2022 of $13,070,000 compared to $15,051,000 for the year ended December 31, 2021, a decrease of $1,981,000. The decrease was a result of the increase in net operating revenue partially offset by the increase in station operating expense, described above, a decrease in other operating (income) expense of $21,000 offset by an increase in our corporate general and administrative expenses of $4,260,000 or 42.4%. The increase in corporate general and administrative expenses was primarily attributable to expenses under the employment agreement we had with our founder and CEO, Mr. Christian upon his death of which $3,900,000 was recorded in the third quarter of 2022. In addition, we had an increase in legal expenses, and transportation related costs of $207,000, and $156,000, respectively, from 2021. For our other operating (income) expense, net in 2022 we recorded a gain on the sale of fixed assets of $14,000 compared to a loss on the sale of fixed assets of $7,000 in 2021.

We generated net income of $9,202,000 ($1.52 per share on a fully diluted basis) during the year ended December 31, 2022, compared to $11,157,000 ($1.85 per share on a fully diluted basis) for the year ended December 31, 2021, a decrease of $1,955,000. The decrease in net income is due to the decrease of operating income, described above, an increase income taxes of $540,000, offset by a decrease in interest expense of $154,000, an increase in interest income of $394,000 and an increase in other income of $18,000. The decrease in interest expense is due to no longer having any debt outstanding, after paying off the remaining balance in the fourth quarter of 2021. The increase in interest income is related to our short-term investments as described in footnote 1 (Summary of Significant Accounting Policies). The increase in other income is primarily due to insurance proceeds for weather-related damages of $535,000 and reimbursements from the FCC related to their spectrum auction of $116,000 in 2022 versus insurance proceeds in 2021 of $589,000 and other gains of $45,000 in 2021 as described in footnote 16 (Other Income). The increase in our income tax expense is due to the permanent difference between book and taxable income related to the compensation paid to our founder and CEO as described above and in footnote 6 (Income Taxes).

39

Liquidity and Capital Resources

Debt Arrangements and Debt Service Requirements

On December 19, 2022, we entered into a Third Amendment to our Credit Facility, (the “Third Amendment”), which extended the maturity date to December 19, 2027, reduced the lenders to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., and the Huntington National Bank (collectively, the “Lenders”), established an interest rate equal to the secured overnight financing rate (“SOFR”) as administered by the SOFR Administrator (currently established as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York) as the interest base and increased the basis points.

We have pledged substantially all of our assets (excluding our FCC licenses and certain other assets) in support of the Credit Facility and each of our subsidiaries has guaranteed the Credit Facility and has pledged substantially all of their assets (excluding their FCC licenses and certain other assets) in support of the Credit Facility.

Approximately $266,000 of debt issuance costs related to the Credit Facility were capitalized and are being amortized over the life of the Credit Facility. These debt issuance costs are included in other assets, net in the consolidated balance sheets. As a result of the Second Amendment, the Company incurred an additional $120,000 of transaction fees related to the Credit Facility that were capitalized. As a result of the Third Amendment, the Company incurred an additional $161,000 of transaction fees related to the Credit Facility that were capitalized. The cumulative transaction fees are being amortized over the remaining life of the Credit Facility.

Interest rates under the Credit Facility are payable, at our option, at alternatives equal to SOFR (5.38% at December 31, 2023), plus 1% to 2% or the base rate plus 0% to 1%. The spread over SOFR and the base rate vary from time to time, depending upon our financial leverage. Letters of credit issued under the Credit Facility will be subject to a participation fee (which is equal to the interest rate applicable to Eurocurrency Loans, as defined in the Credit Agreement) payable to each of the Lenders and a fronting fee equal to 0.25% per annum payable to the issuing bank. Under the Third Amendment, we now pay quarterly commitment fees of 0.25% per annum on the unused portion of the Credit Facility. We previously paid quarterly commitment fees of 0.2% to 0.3% per annum on the unused portion of the Credit Facility.

The Credit Facility contains a number of financial covenants (all of which we were in compliance with at December 31, 2023) which, among other things, require us to maintain specified financial ratios and impose certain limitations on us with respect to investments, additional indebtedness, dividends, distributions, guarantees, liens and encumbrances.

We had no debt outstanding at December 31, 2022 or December 31, 2023.

We had approximately $50 million of unused borrowing capacity under the Revolving Credit Facility at both December 31, 2022 and December 31, 2023.

40

Sources and Uses of Cash

During the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, we had net cash flows from operating activities of $15,379,000, $17,125,000 and $19,104,000, respectively. We believe that cash flow from operations will be sufficient to meet any quarterly debt service requirements for interest and scheduled payments of principal under the Credit Facility if we borrow in the future. However, if such cash flow is not sufficient, we may be required to sell additional equity securities, refinance our obligations or dispose of one or more of our properties in order to make such scheduled payments. There can be no assurance that we would be able to effect any such transactions on favorable terms, if at all.

In March 2013, our Board of Directors authorized an increase to our Stock Buy-Back Program (the “Buy-Back Program”) to allow us to purchase up to $75.8 million of our Class A Common Stock. From the Buy-Back Program’s inception in 1998 through December 31, 2023, we have repurchased 2.2 million shares of our Class A Common Stock for $57.8 million. During the year ended December 31, 2023, approximately 11,274 shares were retained for payment of withholding taxes for $226,781 related to the vesting of restricted stock. We halted the directions for any additional buybacks under our plan in 2020. We continue to monitor economic conditions to determine if and when it makes sense to make additional buybacks under our plan.

Our capital expenditures, exclusive of acquisitions, for the year ended December 31, 2023 were $4,356,000 ($5,994,000 in 2022). We anticipate capital expenditures in 2024 to be approximately $5.0 million to $5.5 million, which we expect to finance through funds generated from operations.

On February 13, 2024, we entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of WKOA (FM), WKHY (FM), WASK (FM), WXXB (FM), WASK (AM) and W269DJ from Neuhoff Communications, Inc. serving the Greater Lafayette, Indiana radio market for $5.3 million which we expect to finance through funds generated from operations or borrowings under our credit agreement. We expect to close on this acquisition in the second quarter of 2024.

On July 12, 2021, we entered into an agreement to acquire WIZZ-AM and a translator from P. & M. Radio for $61,800 of which $5,000 was paid in 2021 and the remainder was paid on April 6, 2022 when we closed on the transaction. Management attributes the goodwill recognized in the acquisition to the power of the existing brands in the Greenfield, Massachusetts market as well as synergies and growth opportunities expected through the combination with the Company’s existing stations. The translators are start-up stations and therefore, have no pro forma revenue and expenses.

On January 8, 2021, we closed on an agreement to purchase WBQL and W288DQ from Consolidated Media, LLC, for an aggregate purchase price of $175,000, of which $25,000 was paid in 2020 and the remaining $150,000 paid in 2021. Management attributes the goodwill recognized in the acquisition to the power of the existing brands in the Clarksville, Tennessee market as well as synergies and growth opportunities expected through the combination with the Company’s existing stations.

On December 7, 2023, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a special cash dividend of $2.00 per share on its Classes A Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $12,500,000, was paid on January 12, 2024 to shareholders of record on December 20, 2023 and is recorded in dividends payable in our Consolidated Balance Sheet at December 31, 2023.

On November 16, 2023, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share on its Class A Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $1,500,000, was paid on December 15, 2023 to shareholders of record on November 27, 2023.

On September 27, 2023, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share on its Class A Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $1,500,000, was paid on November 3, 2023 to shareholders of record on October 11, 2023.

41

On May 9, 2023, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share on its Class A Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $1,500,000, was paid on June 16, 2023 to shareholders of record on May 22, 2023.

On March 1, 2023, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share on its Class A Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $1,500,000, was paid on April 7, 2023 to shareholders of record on March 20, 2023.

On December 7, 2022, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share and a special cash dividend of $2.00 per share on its Class A Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $13,800,000, was paid on January 13, 2023 to shareholders of record on December 21, 2022 and is recorded in dividends payable in our Consolidated Balance Sheet at December 31, 2022.

On September 20, 2022, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share and a special cash dividend of $2.00 per share on its Class A Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $13,600,000, was paid on October 21, 2022 to shareholders of record on October 3, 2022.

On June 6, 2022, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.20 per share on its Classes A and B Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $1,200,000, was paid to our transfer agent on June 29, 2022. The dividend was paid by our transfer agent on July 1, 2022 to shareholders of record on June 13, 2022.

On March 1, 2022, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.16 per share on its Classes A and B Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $970,000, was paid on April 8, 2022 to shareholders of record on March 21, 2022.

On December 14, 2021, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.16 per share and special cash dividend of $0.50 per share on its Classes A and B Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $3,988,000, was paid on January 14, 2022 to shareholders of record on December 27, 2021 and was recorded in dividends payable on the Company’s Consolidated Balance Sheet at December 31, 2021.

On September 28, 2021, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.16 per share on its Classes A and B Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $960,000, was paid on October 22, 2021 to shareholders of record on October 8, 2021.

On June 18, 2021, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.16 per share on its Classes A and B Common Stock. This dividend, totaling approximately $960,000, was paid on July 16, 2021 to shareholders of record on June 30, 2021 and was recorded in dividends payable on the Company’s Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheet at June 30, 2021. The Company had previously temporarily suspended the quarterly cash dividend in response to the uncertainty of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 as of June 18, 2020.

On October 27, 2021, we used $10 million from funds generated by operations to voluntarily pay down the remaining amount on our Revolving Credit Facility.

On May 3, 2022, we used $10 million in cash to purchase U.S. Treasury Bills to be held to maturity with maturity dates between July 2022 and February 2023. During 2022, $8 million of those $10 million were redeemed and we used the proceeds to purchase an additional $8 million of U.S. Treasury Bills to be held to maturity. At December 31, 2022, we had recorded $10.1 million of held-to-maturity U.S. Treasury Bills at amortized cost basis that have a fair market value of $10 million.

During 2023, we used the proceeds from our U.S. Treasury Bills to purchase additional U.S. Treasury Bills when they were up for redemption at various times through the year. We redeemed $20.7 million in U.S. Treasury Bills and purchase an additionally $20.7 million in U.S. Treasury Bills. At December 2023, we have recorded $10.6 million of held-to-maturity U.S. Treasury Bills at amortized cost basis that have a fair market value of $10.6 million. Our held-to-maturity U.S. Treasury Bills all have original maturity dates ranging from March 2024 to July 2024.

42

We continue to actively seek and explore opportunities for expansion through the acquisitions of additional broadcast properties.

We anticipate that any future acquisitions of radio stations and dividend payments will be financed through funds generated from operations, borrowings under the Credit Agreement, additional debt or equity financing, or a combination thereof. However, there can be no assurances that any such financing will be available on acceptable terms, if at all.

Summary Disclosures About Contractual Obligations

We have future cash obligations under various types of contracts, including the terms of our Credit Facility, operating leases, programming contracts, employment agreements, and other operating contracts. The following table reflects a summary of our contractual cash obligations and other commercial commitments as of December 31, 2023:

Payments Due By Period

Less Than

More Than

Contractual Obligations:

    

Total

    

1 Year

    

1 to 3 Years

    

4 to 5 Years

    

5 Years

(In thousands)

Interest Payments on Long-Term Debt(1)

$

564

$

135

$

299

$

130

$

Operating Leases

 

8,803

 

1,857

 

3,180

 

2,166

 

1,600

Purchase Obligations(2)

 

31,791

 

18,081

 

10,585

 

3,125

 

Total Contractual Cash Obligations

$

41,158

$

20,073

$

14,064

$

5,421

$

1,600

(1)Interest payments on our Credit Facility are based on unused commitment of the credit facility and scheduled debt maturities, if we were to borrow in the future and the interest rates are held constant over the remaining terms.
(2)Includes $13,708,000 in obligations under employment agreements and contracts with on-air personalities, other employees, and our President, and CEO, Christopher S. Forgy and $5,300,000 in obligations under the asset purchase agreement for the acquisition of radio stations in the Lafayette, Indiana market.

We anticipate that the above contractual cash obligations will be financed through funds generated from operations or additional borrowings under our Credit Facility, or a combination thereof.

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

Our consolidated financial statements have been prepared in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, which require us to make estimates, judgments and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of certain assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses and related disclosures and contingencies. We evaluate estimates used in preparation of our financial statements on a continual basis, including estimates related to the following:

Revenue Recognition:   Revenue from the sale of commercial broadcast time to advertisers is recognized when commercials are broadcast. Revenue is reported net of advertising agency commissions. Agency commissions, when applicable, are based on a stated percentage applied to gross billing. All revenue is recognized in accordance with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Staff Accounting Bulletin (“SAB”) No. 104, Topic 13, Revenue Recognition Revised and Updated and the Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers.

43

Carrying Value of Accounts Receivable and Related Allowance for Credit Losses:   We evaluate the collectability of our accounts receivable based on a combination of factors. In circumstances where we are aware of a specific customer’s inability to meet its financial obligations to us (e.g., bankruptcy filings, credit history, COVID-19 potential impact on our customers’ business, etc.), we record a specific reserve for bad debts against amounts due to reduce the net recognized receivable to the amount we reasonably believe will be collected. For all other customers, we recognize reserves for bad debts based on past loss history and the length of time the receivables are past due, ranging from 50% for amounts 90 days outstanding to 100% for amounts over 120 days outstanding. If our evaluations of the collectability of our accounts receivable differ from actual results, additional bad debt expense and allowances may be required. Our historical estimates have been a reliable method to estimate future allowances and our reserves have averaged approximately 2-5% of our outstanding receivables. The effect of an increase in our allowance of 1% of our outstanding receivables as of December 31, 2023, from 3.8% to 4.8% or from $618,000 to $781,000 would result in a decrease in net income of $158,000, net of taxes for the year ended December 31, 2023. In the event we recover amounts previously written off, we will reduce the specific allowance for credit loss.

Purchase Accounting:   We account for our acquisitions under the purchase method of accounting. The total cost of acquisitions is allocated to the underlying net assets, based on their respective estimated fair values as of the acquisition date. The excess of consideration paid over the estimated fair values of the net assets acquired is recorded as goodwill. Determining the fair values of the net assets acquired and liabilities assumed requires management’s judgment and often involves the use of significant estimates including assumptions with respect to future cash inflows and outflows, discount rates, asset lives and market multiples, among other items.

Broadcast Licenses and Goodwill:   As of December 31, 2023, we have recorded approximately $90,240,000 in broadcast licenses and $19,236,000 in goodwill, which represents 47% of our total assets. In assessing the recoverability of these assets, we must conduct impairment testing and charge to operations an impairment expense only in the periods in which the carrying value of these assets is more than their fair value. We conduct the impairment testing of broadcast licenses and goodwill annually or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances indicate that the asset might be impaired.

There was no impairment of broadcast licenses in 2021, 2022 or 2023.

44

We believe our estimate of the value of our broadcast licenses is a critical accounting estimate as the value is significant in relation to our total assets, and our estimate of the value uses assumptions that incorporate variables based on past experiences and judgments about future operating performance of our stations. These variables include but are not limited to: (1) the forecast growth rate of each radio market, including population, household income, retail sales and other expenditures that would influence advertising expenditures; (2) market share and profit margin of an average station within a market; (3) estimated capital start-up costs and losses incurred during the early years; (4) risk-adjusted discount rate; (5) the likely media competition within the market area; and (6) terminal values. Changes in our estimates of the fair value of these assets could result in material future period write-downs in the carrying value of our broadcast licenses. For illustrative purposes only, during our 2023 impairment test had the fair values of each of our broadcasting licenses been lower by 10%-30%, we would not have had to record any additional broadcast license impairment.

Tax Provisions: Our estimates of income taxes and the significant items giving rise to the deferred tax assets and liabilities are shown in the notes to our consolidated financial statements and reflect our assessment of actual future taxes to be paid on items reflected in the financial statements, giving consideration to both timing and probability of these estimates. Actual income taxes could vary from these estimates due to future changes in income tax law or results from the final review of our tax returns by federal, state or foreign tax authorities. We use our judgment to determine whether it is more likely than not that our deferred tax assets will be realized.  Deferred tax assets are reduced by valuation allowances if the Company believes it is more than likely than not that some portion or the entire asset will not be realized.

Litigation and Contingencies:   On an ongoing basis, we evaluate our exposure related to litigation and contingencies and record a liability when available information indicates that a liability is probable and estimable. We also disclose significant matters that are reasonably possible to result in a loss or are probable but not estimable.

Market Risk and Risk Management Policies

Our earnings are affected by changes in short-term interest rates as a result of our long-term debt arrangements. If we had borrowings against our long-term debt arrangements, in the event of an adverse change in interest rates, management may take actions to mitigate our exposure.

Inflation

The impact of inflation on our operations has not been significant to date. We are however, starting to see the effects of higher inflation starting to impact costs of most goods and services. There can be no assurance that a high rate of inflation in the future would not have an adverse effect on our operations.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

Recent accounting pronouncements are described in Note 1 to the accompanying financial statements.

Item 7A.   Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.

Information appearing under the caption “Market Risk and Risk Management Policies” in Item 7 is hereby incorporated by reference.

Item 8.   Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

The financial statements attached hereto are filed as part of this annual report.

Item 9.   Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

None.

45

Item 9A.   Controls and Procedures

Evaluation of Disclosure Controls and Procedures

As of the end of the period covered by this report, the Company carried out an evaluation, under the supervision and with the participation of the Company’s management, including its Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, of the effectiveness of the design and operation of the Company’s disclosure controls and procedures pursuant to Rule 13a-15 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”). Based upon that evaluation, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer concluded that the Company’s disclosure controls and procedures over financial reporting were effective to ensure that material information required to be disclosed by the Company in the reports that it files or submits under the Exchange Act will be recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the Commission’s rules and forms.

Changes in Internal Control Over Financial Reporting

There were no changes in our internal controls over financial reporting during the year ended December 31, 2023 that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal controls over financial reporting.

Management’s Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting

Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting, as such term is defined in Exchange Act Rule 13a-15(f). Under the supervision and with the participation of management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, we conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting based on the framework as set forth in Internal Control — Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO).

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

Based on our evaluation, management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2023. Our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2023 has been audited by UHY LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm, as stated in its report which appears below.

46

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

To the Shareholders and the Board of Directors Saga Communications, Inc.

Opinion on Internal Control over Financial Reporting

We have audited Saga Communications, Inc.’s (the Company’s) internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2023, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). In our opinion, the Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2023, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013) issued by COSO.

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB), the consolidated balance sheets of Saga Communications, Inc. as of December 31, 2023 and 2022, and the related consolidated statements of income, shareholders’ equity, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2023 and the related notes and financial statement schedule, and our report dated March 15, 2024 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.

Basis for Opinion

The Company’s management is responsible for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting included in the accompanying Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audit. We are a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.

We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audit also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

Definition and Limitations of Internal Control over Financial Reporting

A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the Company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the Company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the Company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the Company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

/s/ UHY LLP

 

Sterling Heights, Michigan

 

March 15, 2024

 

47

Item 9B.   Other Information

None.

Items 9C. Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

Not applicable.

PART III

Item 10.   Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

The information required by this item is incorporated by reference from the information contained in our Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed not later than 120 days after the end of the Company’s fiscal year. See also Item 1. Business — Information About Our Executive Officers.

Item 11.   Executive Compensation

The information required by this item is incorporated by reference from the information contained in our Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed not later than 120 days after the end of the Company’s fiscal year.

Item 12.   Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Shareholder Matters

The information required by this item is incorporated by reference from the information contained in our Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed not later than 120 days after the end of the Company’s fiscal year.

Item 13.   Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

The information required by this item is incorporated by reference from the information contained in our Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed not later than 120 days after the end of the Company’s fiscal year.

Item 14.   Principal Accountant Fees and Services

The information required by this item is incorporated by reference to the information contained in our Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed not later than 120 days after the end of the Company’s fiscal year.

48

PART IV

Item 15.   Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

(a)1. Financial Statements

The following consolidated financial statements attached hereto are filed as part of this annual report:

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm (PCAOB ID 1195)

 

50

Consolidated Financial Statements:

 

—  Consolidated Balance Sheets as of December 31, 2023 and 2022

 

52

—  Consolidated Statements of Income for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021

 

53

—  Consolidated Statements of Shareholders’ Equity for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021

 

54

—  Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021

 

55

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

 

56

2. Financial Statement Schedules

Schedule II Valuation and Qualifying Accounts is disclosed in Note 1 to the Consolidated Financial Statements attached hereto and filed as part of this annual report. All other schedules for which provision are made in the applicable accounting regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission are not required under the related instructions or are inapplicable and therefore have been omitted.

3. Exhibits

The Exhibits filed in response to Item 601 of Regulation S-K are listed in the Exhibit Index, which is incorporated herein by reference.

49

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

To the Shareholders and the Board of Directors of Saga Communications, Inc.

Opinion on the Financial Statements

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Saga Communications, Inc. (the “Company”) as of December 31, 2023 and 2022, and the related consolidated statements of income, shareholders’ equity, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2023, and the related notes and financial statement Schedule II, Valuation and Qualifying Accounts, listed in the index at item 15(a)(2) (collectively referred to as the “financial statements”). In our opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position of Saga Communications, Inc. at December 31, 2023 and 2022, and the consolidated results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period December 31, 2023, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB), the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2023, based on criteria established in Internal Control-Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (2013 framework), and our report dated March 15, 2024 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.

Basis for Opinion

These consolidated financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s consolidated financial statements based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the consolidated financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. Our audits included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the consolidated financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the consolidated financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall consolidated financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

Critical Audit Matter

The critical audit matter communicated below is a matter arising from the current period audit of the financial statements that was communicated or required to be communicated to the audit committee and that (1) relates to an account or disclosure that is material to the financial statements and (2) involved especially challenging, subjective, or complex judgments. The communication of the critical audit matter does not alter in any way our opinion on the financial statements, taken as a whole, and we are not, by communicating the critical audit matter below, providing a separate opinion on the critical audit matter or on the accounts or disclosures to which it relates.

50

Critical Audit Matter – Broadcast License Impairment Analysis 

As disclosed in Notes 1 and 3 to the financial statements, the Company evaluates Federal Communications Commission licenses (or “broadcast licenses”) for impairment on an annual basis as of October 1st or, more frequently, if events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of the Company’s broadcast licenses may not be recoverable. The broadcast license balance as of December 31, 2023 was $90.2 million. The Company considers potential impairment by comparing the fair value of a market’s broadcast license to its carrying value. Fair value is estimated by management using the Greenfield method at the market level, which is a discounted cash flow approach assuming a start-up scenario in which the only assets held by an investor are broadcasting licenses. Management’s cash flow projections include significant judgments and assumptions related to market growth rates and market profit margin, estimated available market revenue including market share, terminal values and discount rates.

We identified broadcast license impairment as a critical audit matter because of the significant judgments made by management to estimate the fair value of the Company’s broadcast licenses. This required a high degree of auditor judgment and an increased extent of effort when performing audit procedures to evaluate the reasonableness of inputs into the discounted cash flow model driven by management’s estimates.

How the Critical Audit Matter Was Addressed in the Audit

Our audit procedures performed to evaluate the reasonableness of management’s estimates and assumptions included assessing the methodologies used by the Company and testing the significant assumptions used in the quantitative models. We tested the effectiveness of the control over management’s evaluation and determination of estimates and assumptions used as the inputs in the impairment models. We compared the cash flow models prepared by management to historical revenues and profit margins as well as third-party market data to evaluate the reasonableness of the assumptions. We evaluated historical trends in assessing the reasonableness of growth rate assumptions and performed sensitivity analysis of significant assumptions to evaluate the changes in the fair value of the reporting units that would result from changes in these assumptions. We performed procedures to verify the mathematical accuracy of the calculations of broadcast license impairment used by management. We involved our valuation specialists to assist us in identifying the significant assumptions underlying the models, assessing the rationale and supporting documents related to these assumptions and determining the appropriateness and reasonableness of the methodologies employed. Furthermore, we assessed the appropriateness of the disclosures in the consolidated financial statements.

/s/ UHY LLP

 

We have served as the Company’s auditor since 2015.

Sterling Heights, Michigan

March 15, 2024

51

Saga Communications, Inc.

Consolidated Balance Sheets

(In thousands, except par value)

December 31, 

    

2023

    

2022

(In thousands)

Assets

Current assets:

Cash and cash equivalents

$

29,582

$

36,802

Short-term investments

10,595

10,123

Accounts receivable, less allowance of $618, ($519 in 2022)

 

17,173

 

17,440

Prepaid expenses and other current assets

 

2,451

 

2,479

Barter transactions

 

843

 

1,015

Total current assets

 

60,644

 

67,859

Property and equipment

 

148,265

 

146,054

Less accumulated depreciation

 

96,860

 

92,856

Net property and equipment

 

51,405