Print Blues: E.W. Scripps, Lee Revs Decline

This week brought more disappointing results from newspaper publishers, rounding out yet another quarter of revenue declines. Taken together with results posted by other newspaper publishers, the latest figures from E.W. Scripps and Lee Enterprises raise the question of whether the newspaper business will see any sort of turnaround this year.

E.W. Scripps, which publishes the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Ventura County Star, among other daily newspapers, revealed that total revenues decreased 8.6% from $184 million in the third quarter of 2010 to $168 million in the third quarter of 2011.

This included declines at both its newspaper publishing and broadcast TV businesses. Newspaper revenues fell 4.4% to $96 million, while TV advertising revenues tumbled 11% to $69.9 million, reflecting the absence of political advertising this year.

On the newspaper side, total print ad revenues fell 7.9% to $56.5 million -- including a 3.4% drop in local to $18.6 million, a 31% drop in national to $3.1 million, and a 10% drop in classifieds to $18.7 million. Within classifieds, help wanted was flat, automotive was down 8.7%, and real estate was down 17%.



Digital ad revenues for Scripps’ newspaper division decreased 8.2% to $6.5 million, but increased 11% at its broadcast TV group to $2.2 million.

Lee Enterprises, which publishes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, among other local dailies, reported that total revenue declined 3.3% from $188.6 million to $182.4 million, due in part to a 4.7% drop in combined print and digital ad revenues to $128 million. Retail advertising fell 2.9%, national was down 4.6%, and classifieds slipped 8.0%. Within classifieds, employment ticked up 3.2%, automotive fell 4.5%, and real estate tumbled 20.3%.

Digital advertising was a bright spot for Lee, with total digital ad revenues jumping 23.4% to $15.4 million, or 12% of total ad revenues.

As noted, other newspaper publishers have also reported weak results for the third quarter.

At the New York Times Co., total revenues fell 3.1% from $554.3 million in the third quarter of 2010 to $537.2 million in the third quarter of this year. McClatchy Co. showed total revenues declining 8.4% from $327.7 million to $300.2 million, and Gannett Co.’s total revenues slipped 3.5% from $1.31 billion to $1.27 billion. A.H. Belo saw total revenues fall 7.7% from $119.2 million last year, to $110 million this year.

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