Al Neuharth, former Gannett chairman and founder of USA Today, died today from complications of a fall at his home in Cocoa Beach, FL. He was 89. Neuharth’s death was reported by USA Today and the Newseum, which he also founded. Neuharth became president of Gannett in 1970 and CEO three years later. During his more than 15 years at the helm, Neuharth built Gannett into one of the largest American media companies with annual revenues increasing from $200 million to more than $3 billion. He founded USA Today in 1982, while president of Gannett newspaper group. The colorful, easy-to-read newspaper was at first dismissed, some deriding it as “McPaper”, but it went on to become the nation’s second-largest daily newspaper. Neuharth retired from Gannett in 1989.
Gannett offers no details, except that it has “reached an agreement” that will enable DirecTV to continue retransmitting signals from its 23 television stations. Gannett had warned viewers that a “signal disruption” was possible if the companies remained …
UPDATE, 7:10 AM: The announcement, without details, hit literally a minute after I posted the story below about the companies’ decision to extend their negotiations. The companies simply say that they “have reached an agreement regarding Dish Network’s continued retransmission of Gannett stations.”
PREVIOUS, 7:05 AM: The old contract that enabled Dish Network to offer programming from Gannett stations in 19 markets expired at midnight. But Dish customers continue to see them: The companies said this morning that “both sides have agreed to extend the deadline by several hours” to work out a new agreement. Dish said on Friday that it had agreed to a 200% increase in the fees it pays to carry stations controlled by Gannett. The increase is “the same as our closest direct competitor” — presumably DirecTV.
Gannett typically kicks off the earnings season for media companies. And while the story it tells this morning for Q2 is far from cheery — revenues and profits are down for the No. 1 newspaper publisher — it’s also not as bad as Wall Street feared. The company reported net income of $135.6M, down 18.1% vs the period last year, on revenues of $1.31B, -2.1%. The revenue figure is slightly short of the $1.32B analysts projected. But earnings per share, excluding special items for this year and last year, came in at 56 cents, ahead of the consensus forecast of 52 cents. Gannett’s broadcasting unit, which includes 23 TV stations, provided most of the good news. Its revenues were up 11.4% to $205.4M — including a $9M boost from political ads. But even if you factor out political spots, ad sales would have been up 6.2% with strong demand from auto makers, the company says. Gannett forecasts that ad sales in Q3 will be up “in the low-thirties… benefiting from the Summer Olympic
The partnership involves big names in local TV including Belo, Cox, E.W. Scripps, Gannett, Hearst, and Media General. They want to enhance TV viewing beginning in early 2012 by offering an app that enables Apple or Android mobile devices to automatically detect what you’re watching. The stations then would feed additional info about the shows — including local and syndicated fare — as well as opportunities to connect with other viewers. Yes, they’ll also send ads to your device. Here’s how they describe the free service, to be called ConnecTV:
ATLANTA (August 2, 2011) – Bounce TV (http://bouncetv.com), the first-ever over-the-air broadcast television network for African-Americans launching September 26, will be seen on Gannett Broadcasting’s WATL-TV in Atlanta, the second largest African-American television market in the country, it was announced today by Bounce TV Executive Vice President of Distribution Jeffrey Wolf. The agreement is Bounce TV’s first with Gannett. Bounce TV now has affiliation agreements with Gannett, Belo Corp., Nexstar Communications, LIN TV Corp. and Raycom Media. The Atlanta-based network expects to be available in at least 50% of the country by its launch.