Core TV business improving for Gannett


Absent some $58 million in political advertising placed last year, Gannett’s broadcasting division expects to be down by a percentage in the low 20s for Q4, but that’s up low single digits excluding political. The Q4 outlook is similar to what Gannett reported Monday for Q3.

Broadcasting revenues in Q3 were $151.5 million, down from $197 million a year earlier. That total figure includes the Captivate in-elevator video advertising service. For TV, revenues were down 24.7% to $145.2 million. A three-fold increase in retransmission consent revenues to $14.3 million partially offset the loss of $50 million in political and Olympics ad revenues.

CEO Craig Dubow, who has returned to the job after time off for back surgery, noted that Gannett’s TV division is on pace to generate $56 million in retrans revenues this year. He also noted that the TV group is up against tough comps, due to the lack of Olympics and political advertising this year. But excluding those special events, he said year-over-year comparisons for Q3 were the best seen thus far in 2009.

Gannett’s newspaper division, the world’s largest, saw ad revenues decline 28.4% in Q3 to $699.6 million. Ad revenues in the US were down 26%. Classifieds were hard hit, down 33.8% in the US.

For Gannett’s Digital division, including its Internet operations not operated by a newspaper or TV station, revenues were down 20.4% on a pro forma basis. Operating cash flow was up 45% on a pro forma basis. Operating revenues for the digital division were $143 million – still less than broadcasting and just a fraction of the print operation.