Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Advance Publications [Oregonian's owner] at Crossroads

That's the headline of a story at Crain's New York Business. Newspapers are the weak part of Advance Publications.
". . . [N]ewspapers are the weakest link in the family business.

"Circulation at the company's biggest property, Cleveland's The Plain Dealer, was down 7% in the most recent six-month reporting period, to an average of 253,000 copies. The Star-Ledger in Newark—which lost 40% of its newsroom in cutbacks two years ago—saw circulation fall 9%, to 223,000 copies. And last year, The Ann Arbor News was reduced to AnnArbor.com, with a print edition appearing just two days a week.

"Revenues for the newspaper group plummeted 26% in 2009, to $1.3 billion, according to Ad Age.
No mention of the Oregonian's 25% circulation loss in the last three years.

The one silver lining for Advance Publications and the Oregonian: Advance has no debt.
"'That makes a huge difference,' says Ken Doctor, a newspaper analyst with Outsell Inc. He calculates that the Newhouse papers, in line with the rest of the industry, returned to profitability this year with margins of 5% to 10%—far below the 20%-plus margins that were typical for the sector just five years ago."

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