An overall ad drop, plus the absence of political money couldn’t offset Super Bowl revenue, higher online contributions and “significant” gains in retransmission revenue.
Gannett Co. this morning reported results for the first quarter. Broadcasting revenues (which include Captivate) totaled $143.5 million in the quarter compared to $170.2 million in the first quarter of 2008, a 15.7 percent drop.
The company said the decline was due to softer advertising demand, particularly in the automotive and retail categories, and the near absence of politically related advertising which totaled approximately $5 million in the first quarter of 2008, partially offset by a significant increase in retransmission revenues, Super Bowl related advertising that benefited its NBC affiliates and higher online revenue.
Operating expenses for the broadcasting segment were $99.3 million or 11.6 percent lower than the first quarter last year reflecting ongoing efficiency efforts.
Operating cash flow was $52.7 million in the first quarter. Television revenues were 14.9 percent lower and totaled $139.6 million.
Based on current trends, Gannett said it expects television revenues to be down in the high teens for the second quarter of 2009 compared to the second quarter of 2008.
Total reported operating revenues for the company as a whole were $1.4 billion in the first quarter compared to $1.7 billion in the first quarter of 2008. The revenue decline reflects primarily the impact on advertising demand of the ongoing weakness in the economies of both the U.S. and the U.K., Gannett said. Digital segment revenues increased significantly due to the consolidation of CareerBuilder and ShopLocal for the full quarter in 2009.
“While revenue in the quarter benefited from growth in our digital segment and significantly higher retransmission fees for our television stations, our results reflect the pressure on advertising demand across all of our business segments due to continuing recessions in the U.S. and the U.K. Our results, however, highlight the positive impact of the company’s efforts to operate its businesses as cost efficiently as possible in light of the revenue realities we are facing in this extraordinary time,” said Craig Dubow, chairman, president and CEO.