Lack of political drowns Gannett TV in red ink


It’s the same old story for television broadcasters – take away even-year political revenues and take away any reasonable chance for favorable odd-year comps over that even year. Gannett says its Q4 2011 results beat those of Q4 2010 excluding political – but include it, and net operating revenue takes a 14.2% hit.

With political out of the equation, Gannett said its television stations recorded an 11.3% revenue boost, largely due to the return of automotive companies to the air and a better-than 30% increase in retransmission consent fees.

In all, net revenues for Q4 at the newspaper and television operator $1.387B, down 5.1% from the $1.462B recorded the previous year.

The broadcast total derived from a 2011 result of $199.8M, down from $232.8M.

Other key numbers: Publishing advertising was down 7.1% to $670.7M; publishing circulation was down 1.8% to $268.1M, and the catchall other category was down a scant 0.3% to $67.5M. However, as with most companies, digital was in the black, up 9.4% to $181.5M.

Gracia Martore, president and chief executive officer, commmented, “During a period of weak economic growth, Gannett once again differentiated itself within the media industry by delivering solid profitability across each of our market-leading business segments – publishing, broadcast and digital – as well as free cash flow of $775 million in 2011. Gannett’s strong balance sheet and cash generation give us the flexibility to execute our growth strategy and successfully compete in the digital era while paying down debt and returning capital to shareholders.”

Martore continued, “In the fourth quarter, we continued to leverage our local media franchises and iconic national brands across multiple platforms, reinventing local journalism for the digital age and providing innovative marketing solutions for our advertisers. Revenue from our digital properties company-wide rose to 21 percent of total revenue in the quarter.  Excluding even-year political advertising, core broadcast revenues were up strongly in the 2011 fourth quarter. We are positioning for growth in print and digital media through new subscription models delivered across platforms, capturing opportunities in adjacent businesses, and continuing to focus on operational efficiencies.”

Here’s how Gannett described its television results for the quarter: “For the full year, broadcast was down 6.1% to $722.4M, and overall revenues were down 3.7% to $5.240B. Digital improved 11% to $686.5M, while publishing advertising was down 7.4% to $2.511B and publishing circulation was down 2.1% to $1.064B.