TV automotive advertising was one of the few silver linings in Gannett Co.'s otherwise weak third-quarter financial results.
Non-political TV advertising revenues were 4.7% higher in the third quarter versus the same period in 2010. Overall, Gannett TV revenues sank $10.8 million to $168.8 million -- a decline mostly attributable to political advertising, which dropped $18.4 million during the period.
Other good TV news: retrans revenues improved 26.7% in the quarter to $20 million. Digital online revenues at its television stations were up 27.5%.
The news was less positive at Gannett's publishing business, which saw national advertising revenues drop 17%. Gannett owns the nationally distributed newspaper USA Today.
Advertising categories such as entertainment, automotive and financial dropped. Overall publishing revenue, including circulation, declined 5.3% to $917.8 million.
However, digital revenue for the company rose 10% to $272.6 million, which is now 21.5% of total operating revenue for the company. Total revenue at Gannett for the period fell 3.5% to $1.27 billion, with net income sinking 1.6% to $99.8 million from $101.4 million.
For the fourth quarter, the owner of 82 newspapers and 23 television stations expects continued lower results for political advertising, which totaled $52.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. Gannett expects percentage declines in the low teens. Just looking at non-political advertising spending, Gannett forecast high single-digit percentage hikes versus a year ago.