Scripps Co. builds online amidst cutbacks

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The E.W. Scripps Co., publisher of Denver's Rocky Mountain News and other local newspapers, is strengthening its online focus after seeing revenues decline in the third quarter.


The company, which also operates 10 television stations, reported a 9% revenue decrease between Q3 2007 and Q3 2008, thanks, in part, to soft ad sales. Its newspaper arm saw year-over-year revenue fall by 17%, to $131 million, aided by a 20% decline in advertising revenue, and circulation revenue was down 7.6%. Scripps will attempt cost-cutting measures, including around 400 layoffs, to combat the losses.


“There was one particular area we tried to steer clear of [in the restructuring], and that was online,” said Tim King, VP of corporate communications and investor relations, Scripps Co. “We're working very hard to build our online brands in local markets, so the cuts were least severe there. All businesses know that mobile and online are where the brand is going to be built in the future, so that's our focus.”


King added that one goal in building stronger online brands was to attract younger audiences, but “not at the cost of sacrificing our established audiences.” Online activity should also draw in more ad revenue for Scripps: in contrast to falling ad rates on newspapers and TV, the company reported that revenue from pure-play advertisers online rose 13.4% this quarter.


Each of Scripps' 15 local newspapers maintains at least one Web site, and many keep additional, community-focused Web sites, such as — a Tennessee Vols fan site that complements other TN holdings and the Knoxville News Sentinel.


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