Gannett Paints Mixed Picture at Mid-Year Review, As Online Revenue Soars

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By: Jennifer Saba

Gannett Co. is still seeing an uneven economic recovery but is optimistic for growth in the second half of the year, CEO Douglas McCorkindale said Wednesday morning at the annual Mid-Year Media Review conference sponsored by the Newspaper Association of America.

Gary Watson, the head of Gannett’s newspaper division, said the company was seeing good results from its online operations, with a 60% ad revenue gain and non-daily publications. He said there were still mixed signs in its classified advertising business, with employment ads “quite solid” but the outlook for automotive advertising uncertain.

USA Today Publisher Craig Moon said he expected circulation to drop about 1% in the next FAS-FAX due to difficult comparisons to last year. But he said the paper’s revenue will grow in the mid-single digits in the second half of the year, though results have been inconsistent in the year to date.

Craig Dubow, the head of Gannett’s broadcasting division who is set to succeed McCorkindale as CEO on July 15, said local broadcasting advertising was seeing challenges from the auto and retail categories.

Other notes:

* Total advertising revenues for the newspaper division presented by Gary Watson for the year so far (estimated): Retail up 2.5%, National down 1.9%, Classified up 6.7%, Online up 60%, Total up 4.2%.

* Watson said they still don’t know the impact of the recent department store mergers (May/Federated, Kmart/Sears, etc.) will have on newspaper advertising.

* The grocery chain Winn Dixie filed for bankruptcy. This could have an effect on Gannett’s Southeast properties if the grocer closes its stores.

* McCorkindale said Gannett is looking at all types of acquisitions, including Emmis’ TV properties and non-traditional acquisitions — but only if “it makes sense.”

* Circulation: Still adjusting to the Do Not Call legislation, but getting better.

* Craig Moon announced that USA Today will launch a tech magazine for the holidays.

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