UBS: ’08-’09 ad sales decline to be ‘worst in history’

Matthieu Coppet told the 36th annual media conference yesterday that he had revised downward his previous estimates for ad spending this year and in 2009, The New York Times says. The conference is sponsored by investment bank UBS; Gannett appears tomorrow.

Also, the New York Times Co. is in talks with lenders about debt payments coming due in the next two years, Editor & Publisher says — a day after the company disclosed it would borrow $225 million against the value of its new Manhattan headquarters to help repay loans due in May. “There is no doubt that 2009 will be among the most challenging years we have faced and more steps will be needed,” NYT CEO Janet Robinson (inset photo) said today, ahead of her UBS presentation.

UBS’s Coppet had previously forecast an ad spending decline in the United States next year of 5.9% compared with 2008; he changed that to a decline of 8.7%, primarily because local advertising could fall by a “double-digit level,” the NYT story says.

Coppet predicts local newspaper ad spending in 2008 could fall 9% from 2007 and in 2009, it could fall 21% from 2008. For newspapers in general — local and national ads, in America and other regions around the world — the declines Coppet is forecasting are, he wrote in a report, “the worst in the history” of the medium.

For comparison, Gannett’s newspaper ad revenue plunged 17.7% in the third quarter, to $977.1 million, from a year before. Year-to-date, newspaper ad revenue is down 13.8% from last year, the third-quarter earnings report says.

CEO Craig Dubow and his management team are scheduled to speak to the media stock analysts at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, the conference’s third and final day. (Webcast details.)

[Images: Robinson, NYT; today’s Arizona Republic, Newseum. The Phoenix paper, which vies with USA Today as Gannett’s biggest by revenue, has been especially hard hit by real estate ad losses]

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