But after factoring out political spending and ad losses due to absences of Olympics and Super Bowl this year, Gannett said, revenue was up 7.5% over the first quarter of 2010. Based on current trends, Gannett expects total TV revenues for the second quarter to be flat and core to be up in mid-single digits.
Gannett Total TV Rev Down 2% In 1Q
Although Gannett’s broadcast revenues declined 2.2 percent in the first quarter, President/COO Gracia Martore characterized the sector as “a real bright spot for us” during a conference call with industry analysts this morning.
Martore noted that excluding last year’s Super Bowl, political spending and Olympics, broadcast revenues rose 7.3% in the quarter, thanks to solid growth in auto and telecom advertising as well as retransmission and digital revenues.
For the broadcast segment, “It was the challenge of overcoming our own success last year,” said Craig Dubow, chairman/CEO.
Retrans revenues increased 25.7% to $19.5 million. Digital revenues in the broadcast segment increased 28%. Much of that came as a result of the company’s alliance with Yahoo.
The company did not provide specific dollar amounts for the broadcast segment’s digital revenues. Overall, digital was the lone positive revenue number in the company’s first-quarter results: up 12.1% to $157.6 million.
The company is projecting flat broadcast revenues for the second quarter with core up in the mid single digits. When one caller questioned whether Gannett is being conservative, Dubow quickly sought to clarify.
“It has been very, very solid start with the quarter here,” he said. “Particularly in auto and telecom, we’ve seen quite a bit of real strength. To say anything is moderating, I would not agree with that at this point.”
Martore, however, acknowledged that the “Japanese situation,” including ripple effects of auto plant shutdowns, has prompted caution.
“At the start of the quarter we want to be a little conservative as that situation plays out,” she said.
Earlier, Dubow said auto advertising revenues represented about 23 percent of overall broadcast revenues in the first quarter, an increase of more than 13 percent from the first quarter last year.
“There was a bit of softness in the first two months, but that certainly seemed to improve itself,” he said.