Advertising sales fall victim to Iraq war: newspapers


Thu, Jul 17, 2003 - Page 12

The publishers of the three biggest newspapers in America -- USA Today, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal -- on Tuesday said the war in Iraq had caused the advertising recovery to stumble at their top titles.

Gannett, which publishes USA Today, was buoyed by the performance of its British business, regional newspaper group Newsquest, which was behind a 7 percent improvement in profits to US$324 million.

However, it said revenues at USA Today were marginally down due to the dearth of travel-related advertising during the Iraq conflict.

Advertising revenues at the title failed to pick up after the war and were 1 percent lower last month.

At the New York Times Company, profits in the quarter fell from US$78.8 million a year ago to US$72.8 million. Chief executive Russell Lewis said the figures had been "dampened" by "war-related advertising weakness."

Circulation of the New York Times, during a quarter in which the paper was rocked by plagiarism scandals and the resignation of editor Howell Raines, fell by 3.6 percent to 1.09 million. Advertising growth at the paper slowed from 4 percent in the first quarter to 1.4 percent in the second.

But the company said advertising revenues had rebounded last month. The New York Times was 3.5 percent higher, while the broader group was 4.6 percent better than June of last year. Lewis warned of further cost cutting to ensure the firm reaches its full-year targets.

At the Wall Street Journal, which is wrestling with the longer term difficulties of a drop in financial sector spending, advertising during the quarter was down by 7.9 percent on the same quarter last year.