A continued decline in advertising revenue this spring led to a drop in net income at Manitoba's largest newspaper publisher.
FP Newspapers Inc. reported net income of $1.1 million, or $0.166 per share, during the three months ended June 30, down from $1.5 million ($0.217) during the same quarter a year ago.
FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership (FPLP), which owns the Winnipeg Free Press, Brandon Sun and nine community and special-interest newspapers, also reported Friday a $1.5-million decrease in revenue to $25.8 million. That's down more than five per cent from the same three-month period in 2013. (FPI is the publicly traded company that owns securities entitling it to 49 per cent of the distributable cash of FPLP.)
FPLP's print advertising revenues for the quarter were $16.7 million, down $1.3 million, or 7.5 per cent, from a year ago. Its largest advertising revenue category, display advertising including colour, was $10.1 million, down $1.3 million or 11.2 per cent, from a year ago, primarily due to lower spending in the national automotive, government and national retail categories. However, the declines were higher in the first quarter of the year and are starting to flatten out.
Despite the results, FPI chairman Ron Stern told a conference call Friday morning he still has a "strong belief" in the huge value of print advertising. "We are going to put lots of resources into digital (advertising) but print (advertising) still has a very powerful and substantial role in our long-term future," he said.
Free Press publisher Bob Cox said the paper is now providing better training in digital advertising, which involves the introduction of new services for customers, such as search-engine help, social media, marketing and mobile help. The paper has also recently agreed to partner with AdTaxi, a Colorado-based digital-services company that sells and manages highly optimized, multi-platform campaigns to local advertisers.
"We made our first sales this week to digital clients. We expect significant revenue from it. It's widely used in the U.S.," Cox said.
The newspaper industry has seen some difficulty for several years, but while many other papers have taken drastic measures, ranging from not publishing on certain days to moving entirely online to massive layoffs, Stern said nothing like that is in store at any of his properties.