Gannett TV Station Revenue Holds Steady

Gannett’s 23 TV stations pulled in $205.6 million during 4Q08, the McLean, Va., multimedia company said this week in preliminary results for the period. The stations edged out 4Q07 revenues by nearly 2 percent. Gannett nonetheless warned that 1Q09 results would likely be down year-over-year by roughly 15 percent.

Total broadcast revenues, which include Gannett’s (NYSE: GCI) digital signage business, were $212.8 million for the quarter, compared to $212 million the same period a year before. More than $58 million attributed to political advertising was offset in the segment by the flagging automotive and retail sectors. Operating cash flow for the division was $100.7 million compared to $99.9 million the year before.

Full-year preliminary results for the broadcast segment included operating income of $349 million on revenues of $772.5 million, compared to $348 million on $789 million in 2007.

The combined newspaper, online and broadcast divisions posted $1.74 billion in 4Q preliminary results, compared to nearly $1.9 billion the year before. Net income for the entire company was nearly $158 million, compared to $245.3 million for 4Q07. Full-year revenues were $6.77 billion compared to $7.44 billion for 2007. The company expects to post a loss of nearly $1.8 billion for 2008 compared to net income of more than $1 billion for the previous year.

Gannett’s preliminary results don’t yet reflect a pre-tax charge of $5.1 billion to $5.9 billion, reflecting the impact of the recession on assets and intangibles. Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow said the charge is no expected to affect cash flow.

Gannett recently cuts its newspaper workforce by 10 percent and imposed a salary freeze across its divisions for the year. It also imposed a one-week furlough without pay for all 31,000 or so employees.

Shares of Gannett fell 17 percent during Friday trading, from $7 to as low as $5.77 at mid-day.