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Apr 21, 2008

NEWS: Gannett, Barron's, Bloomberg, NYT

Has Murdoch Turned Barron's Into an Advertiser Shill Sheet?

Silicon Alley Insider by 

So much for the separation of journalistic church and state. After flipping through through the latest Barron's, Douglas McIntyre at 24/7 Wall Street argues that, at best, several huge advertisers had advance notice of some of the publication's stories this week:

Once a year, Barron's publishes its "The Top 100 Financial Advisers List"....Most of the advisers on the list work at large firms like JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER), and UBS (NYSE:UBS).

The Murdoch Effect: Bloomberg-New York Times Merger Thoughts?; Civic Duty To Save NYT

imageSo Newsweek is reporting, though details are very sketchy and preliminary for now: it reports that Michael Bloomberg's friends are encouraging him to explore the idea of a Bloomberg-New York Times (NYSE: NYT) merger. The reasoning: the proponents of the merger are appealing to the mayor's sense of "civic-mindedness," arguing that he is best suited to take the publishing company private to "help protect the brand" in the wake of relentless shareholder assaults on NYT, and competition from the broadened focus of Wall Street Journal under News Corp.

In the past, rumors have circulated that Carlyle Group was looking at a possible Bloomberg takeover, but that didn't pan out. Meanwhile, last week in NYT's earnings call, CEO Janet Robinson was asked whether the company felt any more heat from WSJ, as a competitor, since News Corp (NYSE: NWS). took over its parent company, Dow Jones: "It's clear that the WSJ is positioning itself quite differently, broadening into the international and political arena." She added that the NYT has a headstart: "(We have) had broad coverage for 156 years."

Earnings: Gannett Q1 Revs Fall 8.4 Percent; Income Falls 8.9 Percent

from paidContent.org by 

A characteristically weak report from Gannett… the USA Today publisher reported Q1 revenue of $1.7 billion, a slide of 8.4 percent from $1.8 billion. Net income fell 8.9 percent to $191.7 million ($.84 per share) from $206.4 million ($.88 per share). However, this quarter included a one-time $25.5 million gain on the sale of land, which boosted EPS by $.07 per share. Some highlights:

-- Ad revenue on the publishing side hit $1.1 billion, down from $1.2 billion a year ago. Classified revenue fell 16 percent. 
-- Broadcasting revenue fell 7 percent to $170 million. Online revenue increased 7 million in the broadcasting unit. 

-- Separately, the company announced figures for March. Total revs fell 10.3 percent to $573.6 million. There were no interactive dollar numbers, other than traffic figures up 15.1 percent. Release

Gannett Q1: Lousy, In-line (GCI)

from Silicon Alley Insider by 

The best thing you can say about Gannett's Q1 performance: It meet the meager expectations the company had set for itself. Gannett (GCI) posted EPS of 77 cents (excluding a one-time gain) on $1.7 billion in sales, which is exactly what the street was expecting and what the company had said it would do last month.

That's about it for upside. Revenues were down 8.4% y/y, operating income down 14.2%. Print advertising was down 1.2% (though USA Today ad revenue was up 2.1%) and broadcasting revenue was down 7.0%. Management doesn't have encouraging things to say about the future. CEO Craig Duow:

"We faced a very challenging advertising environment as the economy further weakened in the quarter, particularly in the latter half of March. We are focused on positioning the company for the future from both a revenue and expense perspective as we navigate the uncertain economic environment."

Obligatory hopeful note about the Web: USAToday.com is popular, and Nielsen says all of Gannett U.S. Internet properties had 24.8 million uniques in March.

Top 10 Print Media Websites - February 2008

Studio JV: Interview: Philippe Dauman, CEO, Viacom: 'Distribution Both Linear And Online'

from paidContent.org by 

DaumanOne sign that a company is ultra serious about a new venture: when the CEO of a major media company does press calls on a Sunday afternoon. Viacom (NYSE: VIA) CEO Philippe Dauman was doing just that today, as he explained the surprising decision to band together with Lionsgate and MGM for the new studio JV announced today. Most of the details are either undecided or undisclosed but the new venture will emphasize online distribution in addition to premium TV and VOD. The premium world just tilted. Read on for Dauman's explanation of how, why and what's to come, as he told me:

On how online factors in: "As we go forward and make further announcements, you will see that this will be oriented toward the consumer. It will also meet the needs of varying distributors and take advantage of online distribution...innovative both in presenting the content and in distributing it. Under the traditional deals there are a lot of restrictions on what you can do and, by controlling our own destiny, studios and programmers—because it is our ambition to develop premium television content—have a lot more flexibility on what we can do during that window."...

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