Newspapers around the world continue to do it tough.

Some recent reports: Independent News and Media (which controls APN in Australia and NZ) saw sales fall 4%, earnings for the six month edge up 2%, but sales and profits in Britain and Ireland, its main markets dived.

The company is controlled by Sir Tony O’Reilly (son Gavin is now CEO and chairman of APN) and controls the Independent in London.

Sir Anthony O’Reilly, chief executive and 28% shareholder, said the next three months’ trading would be “critical” in determining the full-year outcome.

In Ireland, profits fell 3.9% to €47m; in Britain, operating profit fell 35.6% on a 14% drop in sales.

The US Tribune Co, which controls papers in Chicago and Los Angeles (and which sold Newsday in New York a few months ago) posted a 15% drop in advertising revenue in the second quarter with the company’s largest newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, reporting a sharper 38% slump in real estate ad sales as the slowdown and the subprime crisis which is worse in California that just about anywhere else, except neighbouring Nevada.

The Tribune said real estate classified ads fell by over 40%, with the damage concentrated in Los Angeles.

And the New York Times Co. reported an 18% drop in July advertising revenues, with classified ad revenue, off 30.1% in July, after declining 25.6% in June and 24.8% in May.

At the New York Times Media Group, including the flagship newspaper, ad revenue fell 15.3%. The company said there was no improvement at its New England Media Group, which includes The Boston Globe, Boston.com and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette where ad revenues plunged 24.5%; or at the regional media group where ad revenue declined 18.1%.

Makes Fairfax look prosperous.

Peter Fray

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