Ominous news for the newspaper industry came in the form of weak second-quarter results from three big publishers. Media General, which publishes the Richmond Times-Dispatch, joined the New York Times Co. and Gannett in posting another revenue drop, due to continuing declines in print advertising.
Total revenues at Media General declined 6.8% from $166.2 million in the second quarter of 2010 to $154.8 million in the second quarter of 2011, with a net loss of $15.4 million. This was attributed to a 9.7% drop in print advertising revenue from $82.9 million to $74.8 million.
As in previous quarters, the decline was spread across all major ad categories, with a 22.3% decline in print classifieds, an 8% drop in local print advertising, and a 29.6% drop in national print advertising.
Media General's broadcast properties also saw revenues decline, albeit to a lesser extent, with a 2.9% drop from $72.5 million to $70.4 million. The company attributed this mostly to the absence of political advertising, which contributed $7 million to the bottom line last year.
The company's local media Web sites generated an 18% increase in revenue, but digital media remains a relatively small part of Media General's business, and these gains were offset by losses elsewhere: The "digital and other" category saw total revenues slip from $10.7 million in the second quarter of 2010 to $9.6 million this year, representing just 6.2% of the company's total revenues.
Also this week, NYTCO said total revenues slipped 2.2% from $589.6 million in the second quarter of 2010 to $576.7 million in the second quarter of 2011, due mostly to a 4% decrease in overall advertising revenues from $314.9 million to $302.3 million. That, in turn, was attributed to a 6.4% drop in print ad revenues.
Gannett's publishing division saw total revenues decline 4.9% from $1.03 billion in the second quarter of 2010 to $977.1 million in the second quarter of 2011 -- due mostly to the drop in ad revenues, which fell 6.5% from $692.2 million to $646.9 million over the same period.