Journal contains costs to survive downturn


Revenues are down at multimedia Journal Communications – in fact, its three main media sectors were almost equal to one another in that regard – but reductions in expenses and debt are helping the company ride out the storm. Publishing revenue Q2 2009 compared to Q2 2008 was down 20.1%, television was down 18.2% and radio was down 18.1%. Results were influenced by a write-down in station license value and the need to replace a wind-damaged tower in Wichita KS.

“While the advertising environment remains challenged, we recorded positive operating earnings in the second quarter excluding the $19.0 million non-cash impairment charge. We were also able to reduce debt by $22 million in the second quarter to bring our total debt down to $178 million,” said CEO Steven J. Smith. “We have been able to trim our debt by $37 million in the first two quarters of 2009. We continue to aggressively cut expenses in the face of reduced revenue.”

Smith said automotive is a chief culprit – down 56% on the newspaper side and 49% on the broadcasting side, with no signs of coming back strong. Broadcast exec Doug Kiel said that at least the dealership side of the equation seems to be stabilizing. Still, the only real action available to him is to grow new categories to replace the vanished automotive clients.

Journal announced the sale of two AM stations out of its Boise cluster – see related story in Media Markets and Money.

RBR/TVBR observation: Smith noted that Journal’s focus is to use its triple threat platform to maintain strong leadership in local journalism, and thus be in position to maximize the political category in 2010. Plus it will have some Winter Olympics action. Sounds like a plan to us.