Newspapers Report Improved October Ad Results

Tribune Co.'s newspapers posted a strong month in October, with increases not only in retail and national but also in classifieds.

The Chicago-based company said Tuesday evening that its newspaper group's revenues for the four-week period ending Oct. 26 rose 2.9 percent to $252.44 million. Tribune owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Allentown Morning Call, among other big newspapers. In the retail category, advertising rose 2.5 percent to $103.75 million and national advertising rose 5.1 percent to $64.77 million. Classified, which has been dampened by a downturn in help-wanted but positive in automotive and real estate, increased 1.7 percent to $83.91 million during the period compared to the same growth a year ago.

Year-to-date, both national and retail are up in Tribune Co.'s newspaper group. National is up 7.3 percent to $623.55 million compared to 2002, with retail up 2.8 percent to $1.02 billion compared to the same period. Classified, however, is down 0.5 percent to $862.06 million.



Advertising inches, a measure of the total size of ads placed in all the newspapers, increased 2 percent to 3.21 million. There were increases in full- run national and classified ads. Tribune Co.'s national advertising inches rose 5 percent to 317,000. Full-run classified inches grew 1 percent to 816,000. But full-run retail was essentially flat, with 486,000 inches in October 2003 compared to 484,000 a year ago. Part-run advertising inches, which is not broken down into categories on Tribune's monthly statistical report, rose 2 percent to 1.59 million. Part-run advertising inches are mostly local ads that don't appear in every edition of the newspaper.

The Los Angeles Times saw declines in both full- and part-run advertising inches. It wasn't clear why this happened, although the Southland is in the middle of a grocery strike that could have dampened advertising. The Chicago Tribune was up double digits in full-run advertising inches, and up 6 percent in part-run. Newsday saw increases in the mid-single digits for both categories while the remainder of the Tribune's newspapers registered flat results in full-run advertising inches and slight growth in part-run.

In a separate report, newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises reported Tuesday that its advertising revenue rose 3.1 percent to $121.6 million in the third quarter. Lee Enterprises, which is based in Davenport, Iowa, owns 38 daily newspapers. Advertising grew 2.8 percent organically, which doesn't include the 16 dailies Lee Enterprises acquired in 2002. Advertising revenues at Lee's recently acquired properties rose 4.7 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

Overall, retail revenue increased 1.2 percent and classified revenue rose ever so slightly, dragged down by help wanted. And national advertising grew 4.3 percent, although Lee Enterprises noted in Tuesday's release that it was a small category for the newspaper group.

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