Gannett 3Q: TV Revs Up, Overall Earnings Down

Gannett Co.'s small silver lining was that its TV revenues--as expected--perked up in the third quarter because of political and Olympic-related ad spending. But the bigger picture witnessed its overall net earnings dropping a big 33% due to continued trouble with print advertising from its newspaper unit.

Gannett's net earnings landed at $158 million in the third quarter, compared with $234 million against the third quarter a year ago. Revenue fell 9% to $1.64 billion.

Publishing revenue fell 14% to $1.36 billion, with advertising revenue dropping a bit more--15.9%--at the company's U.S. newspapers. At USA Today, advertising revenue dropped 7.1%, with ad pages decreasing to 713 from 803 in the third quarter of 2007. Gannett publishes USA Today and almost 90 other daily newspapers, including the Arizona Republic, The Indianapolis Star and the Detroit Free Press.

TV revenues at the company were 4.8% improved to $192.8 million, and the company expects similar results in the fourth quarter. "We would expect television revenues to be up in the low single digits for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the fourth quarter of 2007, led by strong political advertising demand," the company said in a statement.



Gannett grabbed almost $24 million in Olympics advertising for its NBC affiliates and about $26 million in politically related ads during the period.

Still, the company noted ongoing weakening problems in other areas-- specifically in core advertising categories including automotive and retail. Other media companies are similarly affected.

The company said online revenues in the quarter were up 15%.

Overall, the stock market was not pleased. In midday Friday trading, Gannett's stock was down 7% to $9.01.

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