Major newspaper publisher McClatchy Co. reported that total revenues decreased 5% to $351.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. The decline was attributed to weak print advertising demand, as total advertising revenues fell 5.7% to $270.9 million, as well as losses in circulation revenues, which fell 3% to $67 million.
For the full year, total revenues shrank 7.7% to $1.3 billion in 2011, with ad revenues dropping 8.9% to $956 million, and circulation revenues slipping 3.8% to $262.3 million.
Returning to the fourth-quarter results, revenue declines were spread across all the major advertising categories. Retail ads fell 6.1% from $159 million to $149.3 million, national advertising tumbled 13.7% from $26 million to $22.4 million, and classifieds slid 10.4% from $65.5 million to $58.7 million. Within the classifieds category, automotive fell 4.9% to $19.6 million, real estate tumbled 17% to $10.1 million, and employed slipped 10.7% to $11.4 million.
Over the course of the year, McClatchy saw the rate of decline in total revenues moderate somewhat, with successive quarterly declines of 9.5% in the first quarter, 8.1% in the second, and 8.4% in the third, slowing to just 5% in the fourth.
Despite nearly continuous revenue declines since its acquisition of Knight Ridder in 2006, the company has been able to pay off a substantial amount of debt, lowering its debt burden from $3.3 billion in 2006 to $1.6 billion today, according to chief financial officer Pat Talamantes.