Briefs: Online ad sales fall; Newsquest staying put?

Odds ‘n’ ends left over from yesterday’s third-quarter earnings report, and Wall Street teleconference.

Online revenues down
In what may be a first — and not a good one — online advertising sales in the 84-daily community newspaper division have fallen.

Such sales fell about 7% in the third quarter from a year ago, CEO Craig Dubow (left) told Wall Street stock analysts. In contrast, he said, U.K. newspaper division Newsquest was up about 10%, in British pounds Sterling. Broadcasting rose about 15%. (These figures are in the teleconference transcript; I can’t find the same dataset in the earnings release, however.)

Dubow’s breakdown for domestic and U.K. is the first I’ve seen in a year; earlier 10-Q filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission gave one figure for all of GCI’s papers. Indeed, the last time Gannett reported a separate figure for U.S. papers — in 2007’s third quarter 10-Q — domestic online revenue rose 11% from a year before. So, the U.S. papers have gone from 11% quarterly growth to a 7% decline. This is not a good thing.

Four-state squeeze
Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada have had much larger declines in classified advertising relative to the rest of Gannett’s markets, and that continued again in the third quarter. Properties in those states produced about 23% of the community newspaper division’s ad revenue — but they drove 36% of the ad revenue decline.

Here’s what this boils down to: The Arizona Republic and four Florida newspapers pumped up Gannett’s revenue during the housing bubble. They had booming real estate markets — and all the ad sales that came with a boom. But when the bust hit, advertising withered, and they contributed more than a third of the 18% dive in third-quarter newspaper ad sales.

Newsquest stays put?
Responding to a question from a stock analyst, Dubow didn’t sound like he’s interested in selling Gannett’s troubled U.K. division — despite published speculation to the contrary. “We have been very proud of what the Newsquest folks have done for us for a number of years and we are very, very aware of the impacts that have occurred because of the economy. . . . They are a bit behind us. I think it is quite clear when you take a look at it, maybe six to nine months or so in what we are seeing that’s already occurred here in the U.S.”

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: today’s Republic, Newseum]

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8 Responses to “Briefs: Online ad sales fall; Newsquest staying put?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    If Florida papers have had a large decline in ad revenue, why were there no layoff’s in the last round?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Uhh…there was.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I thought that no directors were let go from the Florida papers. Must have been mistaken.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Florida did have a few lay offs in August 2008, very little compared to other community papers, but they did the bulk of their layoffs in mid to late 2007. I think there were 120 layoffs within a 6 month time frame in a south Florida Gannett paper.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    As a member of ‘Gannett’s troubled UK division’ I’m interested in just how ‘troubled’ we are.
    Can you provide some specifics and perceptions from your side of the pond please. We need as much info as possible to combat these money-grabbin’, asset-strippin’ b*******. I can provide specifics from here if requested.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I’m confused. Is Dubow saying he’s anticipating declines in UK online revenue over the next six to nine months?

  7. Jim Hopkins Says:

    11:14 a.m.: That’s how I interpreted Dubow’s remarks, yes.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I thought the UK was just a bit ahead, if not even with the US as far as the economic downturn goes. If that’s true, it makes me wonder why he’s offering that doom and gloom prediction.

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