WashPo Newspaper Revs Dip 22%, TV 21%

In a quarterly conference call Friday, the Washington Post Co. said that total newspaper revenues fell 22% in the first three months of 2009 compared to the same period last year -- ending at $161 million, led by a 33% decline in print ad revenues, which plummeted to $74.3 million.

These were mostly offset by a 9% increase in revenues at its Kaplan education division, which has been the strongest-performing property for several years, finishing the quarter at $593.5 million.

On other fronts, the news is quite grim.

Coming a few weeks after the New York Times Co. and McClatchy announced similar results, the Washington Post figures indicate that newspapers suffered unprecedented losses in the first quarter of 2009 and will likely see more of the same in coming months.

Like NYTCO, WaPo's flagship paper saw steep drops across all the major ad categories, including classifieds, national and retail advertising. Ominously, WaPo's online ad revenues also fell 8%, due mostly to the collapse of online classified revenues. Online had long been the sole bright spot on the balance sheets for big newspaper publishers, but now this glimmer of hope is gone.



Feeling the squeeze of one of the worst economic contractions in decades, the company's other big media divisions also reported year-over-year revenue declines, with broadcast television revenues down 21% to $61.2 million and magazine publishing down 14% to $46.1 million.

In both cases, the declines were due to sharp drops in advertiser demand. The one exception was the company's cable TV division, which makes most of its money from subscriptions and saw growth in cable modem, telephone and digital revenues. Overall, cable revenues increased 5% to $183.5 million.

At NYTCO, total advertising revenues plunged 27% in the first three months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, from $458.3 million to $334.6 million. This drove a total revenue decrease of 18.6%, from $748 million to $609 million. Internet advertising revenues posted a 6.1% decline from $72 million to $67.6 million.

Ad revenues at the McClatchy Co. fell 29.5%, from $463 million to $284.7 million. That drove a decline of 25.1% in total revenues, which tumbled from $487 million to $365.6 million. Digital revenues sank 4.7%, as big drops in online recruitment listings canceled out gains in other areas. Like NYTCO, the overall decline exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

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