Staff Reductions, Weak Ads Tag Washington Post

Post-Newsweek Stations sees drops; Cable One posts gains.
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The Washington Post Co. swung to a loss in second-quarter earnings released Friday, tagged by a $87.1 million nonrecurring charge to cover laying off 231 employees and weak results in newspapers, magazines and, to a lesser extent, TV broadcasting.

The employee buyouts are at its flagship newspaper, its Newsweek magazine and corporate office. Its cable-system division made gains.

The media conglomerate posted a loss of $2.9 million, or red ink of 31 cents per share, versus a profit of $68.6 million ($7.19) in the same three-month period a year ago.

Revenue in the quarter that ended June 29 rose 6% to $1.11 billion. The company gets one-half of its revenue from its Kaplan education-testing service, where results improved.

In its TV-broadcasting division, operating income declined 16% to $29.7 million in the second quarter and revenue slipped 6% to $82.8 million.

The company said: “The decreases in [broadcast TV] revenue and operating income are primarily due to soft advertising demand overall, offset by an increase of $500,000 and $3.3 million in political-advertising revenue for the second quarter and first six months of 2008, respectively.”

After the second quarter ended, the company’s Post-Newsweek Stations group agreed to buy NBC affiliate WTVJ in Miami from NBC Universal, with a $205 million price revealed in a filing. Post-Newsweek already owns the ABC affiliate in that market, WPLG, among its six existing stations.

The company’s cable-system division, Cable One, posted a 25% hike in operating income to $40.1 million and revenue advanced 16% to $178.9 million. Its cable-TV, cable-modem and voice services made gains. Its basic-cable-subscriber count rose to 701,894 from 696,673 a year earlier.

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