The fourth quarter did nothing to halt the long-term decline of the newspaper industry, judging by weak results from a number of major publishers. The latest batch comes from
the Washington Post Co., which saw revenues from its newspaper division fall 6% from to $162 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The drop was due to the continuing decline in print advertising at the flagship newspaper, which fell 12% to $68 million over the same period. For the full year, total print advertising at The Washington Post fell 14% from to $228 million in 2012.
Total revenues at the newspaper division fell 7% from $623 million to $582 million over the same period.
However, the company’s overall results were buoyed somewhat in the fourth quarter by political advertising at its cable and broadcast TV divisions. Cable TV revenues were up 6% to $202 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, while broadcast TV jumped 32% to $116 million. For the full year, both divisions also benefited from Olympic advertising, with cable TV revenue up 4% to $787 million, while broadcast was up 25% to $400 million.
The strong performance at the TV divisions also helped offset continuing declines at WaPo’s education division, which includes Kaplan. Education division revenue fell 6% to $544 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the full year, revenues were down 9% from $2.4 billion to $2.2 billion. The company took a $116 million impairment charge at Kaplan’s test prep business, reflecting restructuring costs associated with asset write-downs.
The education division, which used to be a cash cow for WaPo, has suffered since Congress revised the rules governing how recipients may use federal education loans. Rules adopted in 2010 restrict the use of the loans to pay for for-profit colleges and test prep services.
For the Washington Post Co. overall, total annual revenues increased 1% from $1.04 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 to $1.05 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the full year, company-wide revenues fell 3% from $4.13 billion to $4.02 billion.