E.W. Scripps Newspaper Revenue Down 8.3% in Q1

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By: E&P Staff

Newspaper segment profit at E.W. Scripps slipped to $27.6 million in the first quarter from $29.3 million in 2007, on revenue that dropped 8.3% to $156 million, the Cincinnati-based media company reported Thursday.

Overall, Scripps reported a strong first quarter, pushed by increased revenue and profits at its Scripps Network, the unit of cable and Internet businesses it intends to split off from its newspaper and broadcast television operations.

On a consolidated basis, Scripps said, first-quarter revenue increased 6.8% to $642 million compared to the year-ago period.

Q1 net income overall increased to $84.1 million, or 51 cents a share, compared with $68.5 million, or 42 cents a share, last year.

At Scripps Networks, first-quarter revenue jumped 15% to $311 million. Segment profit also increased 15%, to $147 million.

Scripps Networks accounted for nearly half of the company’s consolidated revenue during the first quarter, the company said.

By contrast, advertising revenue at newspapers managed solely by Scripps fell 10% to $120 million.

Like other companies that have reported Q1 results in recent days, Scripps newspapers took big hits in the classified category, falling 19% overall. Scripps did not break out individual categories inside classified.

Local ad revenue fell 8.4% to $33.9 million, and national was down 10% to $8.0 million.

Preprint and “other” ad revenue slipped 0.2% to $36.5 million.

Scripps said its online revenue, which is included in the preprint and “other” category was “flat” at $9.9 million.

Circulation revenue was $30.5 million, off 1.2%.

Scripps said its share in the joint operating agreement (JOA) partnerships it has swung to a gain of $2 million, from a $7.4 million loss last year. The gain is partly due to its $4.4 million share of a one-time gain on the sale of real estate in Denver, where it publishes the Rocky Mountain News.

Newsprint expense declined 11% due primarily to lower paper usage, Scripps said.

Scripps President and CEO Kenneth W. Lowe said the company was on track to spin off newspapers and broadcast by the end of the second quarter: “We’ve received a favorable ruling from the IRS on the tax-free nature of the transaction; we’ve received initial comments from the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) on the filing of the new company’s Form 10 information statement; and the management teams are in place for both companies going forward.”

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