Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Gannett’s Disappearing Ad Revenue Signals More Bad News for Newspapers

newspaperlessYesterday we got a sense of how bad the first quarter was for the magazine business. Today we get a report card from the newspaper industry, and it’s equally grim.

If you’re one of the few people gambling on Gannett (GCI) stock, you’ll want to note that the company’s earnings per share, after factoring out one-time gains, came in at 25 cents. That’s a penny better than the street’s estimate. And the company recorded $1.38 billion in revenue, missing the $1.44 billion consensus.

The rest of you care about Gannett because you want to get a sense of how bad the advertising market was for newspapers and local TV during the first three months of 2009. Short version: Very bad.

Relevant numbers:

Publishing advertising revenue: Down 34.1 percent (or down 29.8 percent if you exclude currency fluctuation)

Classified ad revenue: Down 46.5 percent

USA Today ad revenue: Down 33.5 percent (which is where Gannett had warned it would be

TV revenue: Down 14.9 percent

Later this afternoon, we’ll get a look at a different media industry bellwether when Google (GOOG) provides its report card. It’s not going to look nearly as bad, obviously, but by the very high standards of the search giant, it’s still going to be upsetting. More on that in a bit.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik