Circulation revenue from Gannett’s publishing properties rose slightly in 2013, a bright spot in the country’s fourth-quarter and year-end earnings report. Operating revenues fell 3.6 percent over all at Gannett in 2013. That decline reflected a 6.7 percent drop in publishing advertising over 2012 and a 7.8 percent drop in broadcast revenue. Circulation revenue at the publishing properties was up 1.1 percent over the previous year, and Gannett’s digital businesses were up 4.1 percent.
The company’s broadcast properties benefitted from retransmission fees, which were up 31.5 percent over the fourth quarter of 2012, but that revenue didn’t offset the drop in money from political advertising from 2012.
In the publishing division, Gannett said advertising revenue was down 10 percent in the fourth quarter over the same period in 2012, and circulation revenue was down nearly 8 percent over the same period. Expenses at Gannett’s publishing businesses dropped about 5 percent, “due primarily to continued efficiency efforts,” the company said.
In 2013, Gannett made cuts at many of its print properties, and it announced a plan to nearly double the number of TV stations it owned by acquiring Belo, a plan the FCC approved in December. The stock market rewarded the company’s moves — at the end of 2013 Gannett’s stock was up 64 percent.
Gannett “can now be thought of as a broadcast company with major newspaper and digital assets,” Ken Doctor wrote last year, comparing it with companies like Tribune (which plans to spin off its newspaper assets), News Corp (which separated its broadcast and publishing properties), Media General (which sold its newspaper business) and the New York Times Company (which has become “the purest play newspaper company”).
Last June, an Associated Press reporter asked newspaper company CEOs whether they thought they’d still be publishing daily print editions in five years. Most said yes, but Gannett CEO Gracia C. Martore said, “I can’t predict what is going to exist in five years.”