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ProJo Parent's Revenue Decline Slows

The Providence Journal's parent company, A.H. Belo, held a conference call with reporters yesterday to announce earnings. And the company reported that it had its smallest revenue decline in two years. From a Wall Street Journal brief:

The company, which operates four daily newspapers and a group of websites mainly in Dallas and Texas, has posted a string of losses since it was spun off from Belo Corp. in 2008. Its business suffered even before the economic downturn further diminished advertising revenue. The sector in general is dealing with a long decline in ad revenue as consumers and advertisers migrate to the Internet.

The owner of The Providence Journal and The Dallas Morning News has cut costs by shedding jobs during the past year, which helped it show its only profit in the fourth quarter last year. It said in May the decline in ad revenue has moderated and circulation has started to rebound as it began to target a selected audience and create more local content.

Ad revenue decreased 12% in the second quarter compared with a 30% decline a year earlier and a 19% drop in the first quarter. Circulation revenue rose 6.6%.

Execs also suggested that the ProJo might consider hiking subscription prices again. Ted Nesi, who recently moved from Providence Business News over to WPRI-TV, has the details:

The Providence Journal is exploring whether to raise the newspaper’s price again following a double-digit increase last year, a top executive at its parent company said Monday.

The Journal’s sister paper, The Dallas Morning News, “is evaluating potential circulation pricing strategies for the remainder of 2010,” and The Journal “is also reviewing further potential options,” Alison Engel, chief financial officer of A.H. Belo Corp., told investors in a conference call Monday.

Last year, The Journal increased the cost of a home-delivery subscription by 14 percent, to $416 a year. The newsstand price of a weekday edition increased to $1. The Morning News also raised prices.

Circulation revenue - up $33 million since 2006 with price increases - has been a bright spot for a paper facing declining readership and advertising. The Journal, as Nesi's piece points out, is now the highest-priced daily in the country after the Boston Globe.

Rising prices and declining readership point to a larger trend - newspapers becoming more of a high-cost, niche product as a way to survive.

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