CEO Gracia Martore says that “with 43 stations covering 30% of the country … there’s quite a bit on the drawing board.” Dave Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting, adds that the company is looking at not only home-grown programming but also pursuing cooperative ventures with other broadcasters.
As it moves to separate broadcast and publishing operations later this year, Gannett is actively exploring development of its own broadcast programming, CEO Gracia Martore said during this morning’s earnings conference call.
“That’s definitely been on our blackboard,” she said. “With 43 stations covering 30% of the country, I can’t talk specifics but there’s quite a bit on the drawing board.”
Dave Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting, added that the company is looking at not only home-grown programming but also pursuing cooperative ventures with other broadcasters.
Last June, Gannett formed a partnership with Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury to develop first-run series with interactive elements for a variety of dayparts. In September, the partnership hired former TLC programming exec Stephanie Eno to head development.
The executives did not specify what kind of programming they’re considering. Categories that other broadcasters — including Raycom, Scripps and Sinclair — are pursuing include lifestyles, sports and news.
Gannett will continue to look at acquisitions to grow broadcast, digital and publishing operations, Martore said.
“After the spin, we will have two companies with strong balance sheets,” she said. “We have an appetite to expand where we can on a very disciplined basis.”
Along with further tuck-ins on the broadcast side, the company also expects to expand the cars.com product suite and may pursue consolidation on the publishing side.
Lougee projected that reverse compensation to networks will be about 45% of retrans revenues in the coming year.
Martore put strong focus on Gannett’s digital operations, on the broadcast and publishing sides alike, noting that cars.com, Career Builder and G/O Digital have been strong contributors to digital revenue growth of 77% in the fourth quarter.
While the companies have had solid internal growth, they will continue to pursue potential acquisitions.
“We’re pleased with the progress to date,” she said. “There will be much more to come in the next 12 to 24 months.”
While the publishing division continues to face “industry headwinds” amid a “challenging national advertising environment,” USA Today website visits were up 41% in the fourth quarter.
Gannett’s $540 million in digital revenues now account for 32% of overall company revenues.