Gannett reported television revenue of $139.6 million in the first quarter, a 14.9% drop from the same quarter last year. Broadcasting revenues were $143.5 million, well down from the $170.2 million Gannett did in broadcasting revenue in the first quarter last year. Broadcasting includes Captivate Network, which programs to screens in office buildings.
"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," Gannett said in a statement, "partially offset by a significant increase in retransmission revenues, Super Bowl related advertising that benefited our NBC affiliates, and higher online revenue.
Operating expenses for the broadcasting segment were $99.3 million--11.6% lower than the first quarter last year.
"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 UK," said Chairman/President/CEO Craig Dubow. "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.
"Although business conditions remain very challenging, we continue to transform all facets of the company as we position it for a more favorable economic environment and the opportunities we see in the changing media landscape," Dubow added.
Digital operating revenues were $143.2 million in the quarter, well up from the $13.9 million Gannett did in digital last year--reflecting primarily the consolidation of CareerBuilder and ShopLocal.
Gannett's publishing division posted $1.1 billion in revenue for the quarter, a 26.9% freefall. Ad revenue at USA Today was down 33.5%
The company reported first quarter earnings per diluted share were $0.34, compared with $0.84 per share in the first quarter of 2008.
Gannett forecasted a drop in the high teens for the second quarter.