Gannett's Q3 Circ Revenue Slips With 'USA Today' Woes, Price Increases

By: Mark Fitzgerald With its peers poised to report rising circulation revenue, Gannett Co. said Monday that its circ revenue fell 4.9% in the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

In a conference call with reporters and industry analysts, Gannett executives blamed the circulation declines at the flagship USA Today on the fall-off in business travel, and aggressive price increases at virtually all its 83 newspapers.

"It's No. 1, the vacancy rates at hotels we have contracts with, and it's No. 2, that travel in general is down and so sales are down at airport store and the like," said CFO Gracia Martore.

Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow said the circulation-revenue declines among its other papers are mostly related to price increases pushed through late last year -- rate hikes he indicated would not be repeated soon. "Clearly, we are going to be very careful on future circulation pricing actions," he said.

The travel slowdown also hit USA Today hard in its ad revenue, Gannett said. Paid advertising pages slipped to 493 in this quarter compared to 713 in the third quarter of 2008.


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