TV stations strong, newspapers weak in Scripps’ 2012 results

The E.W. Scripps Company
Political advertising revenue at Scripps’ television stations in the fourth quarter of 2012 was “higher than the full-year political total reported in any previous year,” the company said in an earnings report Tuesday. Local and national advertising revenue was up as well; local advertising brought in nearly as much as political ads did. All that cash led to a dramatic gain in segment profit for Scripps’ stations in the fourth quarter: “$65.3 million, compared with $23.2 million in the year-ago period,” the release said.

At Scripps’ newspapers, which include The Commercial Appeal and the Knoxville News Sentinel, circulation and print-ad revenue were down, and digital revenue scratched a small gain.

Newspaper division operating revenue from national advertisers was down 28 percent in the fourth quarter and down 31 percent over the entire year. “The papers are preparing for a move in the first half of 2013 toward a new – bundled – subscription strategy for print and digital products,” the release said.

Overall, operating revenue at the newspapers was down nearly 5 percent in the fourth quarter and nearly 4 percent in 2012. The company said it expects revenues and expenses at its newspapers in 2013 to “decline at a low-single-digit rate, with the decline in expenses being greater than the decline in revenue.”

Scripps CEO Rich Boehne told Poynter’s Rick Edmonds last year he “wants to introduce a version of paid digital content at Scripps’ dozen-plus local television stations as well,” a move that would “put Scripps among the first to experiment with paid digital on a broadcast news site,” Edmonds wrote. Boehne said he was “willing to invest from a TV base to compete with local newspapers in that emerging market.”

Previously: Revenue way up at Scripps’ TV stations, down at its newspapers | The tale of 3 paywalls: E.W. Scripps goes all in, Gannett brags, Washington Post thaws

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