Conference call

Gannett Split Indicative Of New Media Order

The split will allow Gannett to avoid FCC newspaper-broadcast crossownership restrictions, enabling it to take advantage of acquisition opportunities in each sector. "It was difficult to look at certain acquisition opportunities we found attractive because of crossownership prohibitions," Gannett CEO Gracia Martore told investors and analysts.
TVNewsCheck,

Gannett's move to split into two companies — one encompassing broadcasting and digital, the other publishing — is the latest such move in a trend reflecting current economic and regulatory realities.

In the past month alone, E.W. Scripps and Tribune Co. have spun off broadcast and publishing operations. Their moves follow the Media General's 2012 sale of most its newspaper operations, a similar move by Freedom Communications in 2011, and Belo Corp.'s split in 2008.

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Newspapers have taken it on the chin with the advent of the Internet and the shift of classified advertising, once a newspaper mainstay, to the digital platform.

"We've made huge strides in stabilizing and revitalizing the publishing business" in the last two and half years, Gannett CEO Gracia Martore said during this morning's investor-analyst conference call.

"The time is now right to create two separate companies."

The split will allow Gannett to avoid FCC newspaper-broadcast crossownership restrictions, enabling it to take advantage of acquisition opportunities in each sector.

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"There will be fewer regulatory obstacles in two consolidating industries," Martore noted, adding that, "Both companies will continue to collaborate on cross-platform sales."

Once the split is completed — which is projected to be mid-2015 — Martore will become CEO of the as-yet unnamed broadcast-digital company and Robert Dickey, current president of the U.S. Community Publishing division, will become CEO of the publishing company.

Gannett's acquisition of the 73% of Cars.com that it did not already own further reflects the combination of digital and broadcast operations that has characterized broadcasting over the last several years.

"With Cars.com, we'll double the size of our digital business," Martore said.

As the FCC has increasingly focused on expanding broadband capacity in the U.S., broadcasters and newspaper publishers have scrambled to come up with ways of improving the economics in what many consider mature sectors.

Increasing economies of scale through consolidation is one such path. But with the FCC's stricter enforcement limiting broadcast duopolies and prohibition of big-media companies owning television stations and newspapers in the same market that has become increasingly tough.

"It was difficult to look at certain acquisition opportunities we found attractive because of crossownership prohibitions," Martore said.

She noted that Gannett "has been fortunate to do in one year two just fantastic transactions" — the $2.2 billion Belo Corp. acquisition and the $1.8 billion Cars.com deal announced today.

Even with that, the broadcasting company will still carry a lower leverage — slightly above 4X — than many of its peers, she said.

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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 26, 2016
  • 1.
    4.4/12
  • 2.
    2.8/8
  • 3.
    2.5/7
  • 4.
    1.5/4
  • 5.
    0.8/2
  • 6.
    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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