US Yellow pages goes bust. America’s media slump has snared another major corporate with the huge RH Donnelly printing group going into Chapter 11 on Friday night because it couldn’t pay its debts. The company, based in Cary, North Carolina, had assets of $US11.9 billion and debt of $US12.4 billion according to its statement, making it the second biggest collapse in the media and printing sector after the failure of the Chicago-based Tribune Co. Donnelly publishes 600 directories, including a number editions of The Yellow Pages in the USA.
R.H. Donnelly blamed the filing partly on “a significant decline in advertising sales due to the recent economic downturn and increased competition in the local business advertising industry.” The company had a net loss of $US401 million in the first quarter as revenue fell 11% to $US. First quarter advertising sales were $US598 million, down 17% from the first quarter 2008.
That was after losing $US2.3 billion in all of 2008 due to impairment charges as it wrote the balance sheet value of its US and international assets, and from lower earnings flowing from the impact of the recession and huge debts. The company warned on May 14 that lenders and bondholders had agreed to delay calling their loans until May 28 and wouldn’t take any action on the company’s missed debt payment.
Donnelly filed for bankruptcy protection the day after the latest deadline passed. It is aiming to emerge from bankruptcy early next year. The company said it will reorganize by cutting debt by $US6.4 billion, including about $US700 million of secured debt. Under the plan, about $US6 billion of unsecured bond debt would be exchanged for all of the equity in the reorganized company and $US300 million in unsecured notes. That means the current shareholders will be wiped out. — Glenn Dyer
Twitter telegrams. In the USA a Twitter nerd called Sam Potts has started a very odd free service for the Twitterati called Twitter on Paper . You send him a tweet and he writes it on a piece of paper and posts it to you. Here is what they look like:
It seems Potts’ stamps them with the date, like they used to do in libraries back in the old days. Why he’s doing this, we’re not entirely sure. So far Sam will only post tweets within the US, so it’s virtually useless for Australians unless you feel the need to send friends or relatives in America your tweets. Question, is Potts making a statement about the absurdity of Twitter? — Eleri Harris
Youtube advertising innovation. Advertising agency Boone Oakley have created an interactive Youtube clip alongside their website. It’s an interesting exercise in multimedia, with different videos for each section.
The Punch comes out swinging. So what to make of The Punch ? If you’ve missed it, this is News Ltd’s new uber blog which has been many months in the making. It went live on Sunday night, ahead of an official Monday launch. So bear in mind that these initial thoughts come before any Monday agenda-setting bombshells. First and most important. It’s good enough. And that’s not meant as damning with faint praise. By that I mean that right from the beginning it feels like it’s going to find an audience. — Mumbrella
Wikipedia bans Church of Scientology from editing. Wikipedia has banned contributions from the Church of Scientology to end a long-running dispute over the editing of Scientology-related articles on the site. The online encyclopaedia, which is edited by users, has ruled that all IP addresses owned and operated by the Church of Scientology and its associates are to be blocked as if they were open proxies. A long list of individual editors are prohibited from contributing to articles on Scientology and face having their accounts suspended if they breach the ban. — Guardian
Does Facebook lead to adultery? Indonesia briefly dizzied itself this past week after a group of Muslim clerics from the country’s largest Islamic organization, the Nahdatul Ulama, recommended creating rules to govern how Muslims use Facebook — again pitting the nation’s religious against its increasing modernity. The clerical bunch were concerned the social-networking site could be used to flirt, leading to illicit affairs, adultery or worse. Their concerns are certainly not a stretch and it’s not the first time the issue has come up. Muslim leaders here had similar concerns with Friendster and MySpace in previous years. But this time a frantic Indonesian press jumped all over the story and in its haste grossly exaggerated it. — Global Post
Gray Lady juicing up digital ads. A strange advertisement appeared recently on the homepage of NYTimes.com . A digital version of The New York Times ‘ front page rolled over readers’ screens, revealing a date from the year 2040 and the bizarre headline, “President converses with dolphin, develops new environmental plan.” Readers who clicked on the article were rushed to the homepage of semiconductor giant Intel. “Homepage takeovers,” as they are known in industry parlance, are common in digital publishing. What was unusual about the Intel spot was that it was designed in part by the Times’ ad sales team and used the 158-year-old newspaper’s own brand in the actual marketing message. — Forbes