Newspaper Spending Rises 3 Percent in January, Pages Climb 2 Percent

Ad linage rose 2 percent and ad revenues climbed 3 percent in January among publicly traded newspaper companies, according to a MediaDailyNews analysis of data from company reports.

MediaDailyNews' index of newspaper ad revenues rose to $1.28 billion last month, compared with $1.24 billion a year ago. Ad revenue growth was led by Pulitzer Inc., which rose 8 percent to $28.1 million; McClatchy, up 5 percent to $79.7 million; and Gannett, up 6 percent to $373.6 million. The rest of the sector saw slight increases with the exception of Journal Communications Inc., the publisher of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and other newspapers, whose ad revenue fell 2 percent last month compared to January 2003.

Total ad linage was up as well, from 22.1 million inches a year ago to 22.5 million in January 2004. E.W. Scripps' 4 percent increase in total linage led the index; Lee Enterprises and Media General were both up 3 percent. Knight Ridder and The New York Times Co. were down slightly, and Journal Communications' total ad linage fell 4 percent.

The retail index, which includes seven newspaper companies that report the data, was mixed for the month. Retail revenues rose 2 percent, but linage dropped 3 percent. Leaders were Pulitzer (revenues up 9 percent) and Tribune (revenues up 4 percent); Media General's retail revenues fell 5 percent. Six of the seven companies releasing retail linage showed declines; only Tribune was up slightly.

National ad revenues were up 1 percent, with all nine newspapers reporting showing increases. Tribune was up slightly; Lee Enterprises was up 13 percent; and the remainder was in the sector somewhere in between. National ad linage rose 5 percent, with double-digit increases at Lee and Gannett. McClatchy, Media General, and E.W. Scripps rose in the high single digits, and New York Times Co. and Tribune were down slightly in the national-ad category.

Classified ad revenues were up 4 percent, with most of the companies reporting gains in the mid- to high-single digits. Journal Communications and The New York Times Co. reported declines. Classified ad linage was up 3 percent overall in the MediaPost newspaper ad index.

MediaPost's monthly newspaper composite includes data from the following publicly traded newspaper companies: Gannett, Journal Register Co., Knight Ridder, Lee Enterprises, McClatchy, Media General, New York Times Co., Journal Communications, Pulitzer Inc., E.W. Scripps, and Tribune Co. It doesn't include Belo or Dow Jones, which don't release detailed linage and revenue data monthly.

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