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Another US newspaper firm EW Scripps surprises with a profit

NEW YORK - EW Scripps, the publisher which shut down the Rocky Mountain News earlier this year, has surprised the industry by reporting a small second quarter profit.

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It is the latest in a line of US newspaper publishers to report better than expected numbers in recent weeks with USA Today owner Gannett moving into second quarter profit, while McClatchy Company said it was seeing its newspaper advertising decline at a slower rate.

EW Scripps, which owns the Colorado Daily in Boulder, the Abilene Reporter-News in Texas and the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina, posted net income of $2.3m compared with a net loss of $608.4m last time.

The profit came despite a slump in advertising revenue.

The news sent shares in EW Scripps soaring by as much as 33%. Its revenues for the second quarter were $194m down 23% from $251mm in the second quarter of 2008.

Rich Boehne, president and CEO of EW Scripps, said: "In the near term, we are seeing some slight improvement in the flow of advertising in our markets, particularly at the television stations, which have increased their revenue projections -- albeit very modestly -- during each of the past seven weeks.

"We remain most focused during this period of rapid media transformation on the longer-term opportunities to increase our shares of local audiences and advertising revenues through a dedication to high-quality content and outstanding public service."

Year-over-year revenue from newspapers managed solely by Scripps fell 22% to $113m. Advertising revenue was down 29% to $79.4m.

Advertising was down across the board including online:

  • Local, down 28% to $23.6m
  • Classified, down 39% to $24.1m
  • National, down 25% to $5.0m
  • Preprint and other, down 17% to $19.3m
  • Online, down 25% to $7.3m

Scripps said that the decline in online advertising revenue was attributable to the weakness in print classified advertising, to which roughly half of the online advertising is tied.

Revenue from online-only ad sales rose 19% to $3.6m.

The company reported a loss of $900,000 for shutting down the Rocky Mountain News in February after failing to find a buyer.

Scripps, which also owns television stations, saw its TV ad revenues fall 24% to $61m largely as a result of the fall in automotive, financial services and retail advertising.

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