Articles of the Day


Cox Communications Betting $500 Million On Ambitious Cellphone Service — Cox Communications plans to launch its own cellphone service in the second half of 2009, an ambitious attempt to compete independently with the major carriers. Cox president Pat Esser told USA Today the company “spent $500 million buying wireless capacity in our markets. Now, we’re going to turn it on.” Plans for the service, which will mesh cellphones, landline, TV and Internet, may sound familiar; after all, Cox was one of the MSOs that formed a JV with Sprint (NYSE: S) to accomplish much of the same. But the JV fell apart earlier this year, following investments of $100 million from the operators and $100 million from Sprint—and a whole lot of hype.

Gannett Q3 Profits Drop 32 Percent; Revs Slide 8.9 Percent — Gannett’s profits and revenues were down again in Q3, with total operating revenues slipping 8.9 percent to $1.64 billion from last year’s $1.80 billion. Net income meanwhile fell 32 percent to $158 million ($0.69 per share) from Q307’s $234 million ($1.01 per share), reflecting the woes its newspaper peers have been experiencing lately as revenue from ads and circulation plummet and the company acts to rein in costs. Gannett (NYSE: GCI) recently said it would eliminate 1,000 staff positions, including 600 layoffs, for a 3 percent reduction in its workforce. Analysts estimates gathered by Thomson Reuters (NASDAQ: TRIN) expected the USA Today parent to post a gain of 75 cents per share and revenue of $1.61 billion, AP reported in its earnings preview. While noting the trouble on the print side, Gannett’s earning statement attempted to highlight some of the more positive news on the digital front. Like most newspaper companies who are still experiencing growth from their respective internet properties—albeit at a slower rate, these days—digital revenue ballooned to $77.5 million in Q3 from $17.1 million. Again, impressive numbers, but certainly not enough to stanch the losses elsewhere. As for a review of some of Gannett’s digital moves during the quarter, the company acquired all of its partners’ ownership stakes in comparison shopping site ShopLocal and took an additional 10 percent stake in CareerBuilder, increasing its ownership to 50.8 percent. While the company publishes 100 websites, mostly related to its newspaper and broadcast properties, the real money makes were CareerBuilder, along with ShopLocal and rich media ad firm PointRoll.

Economy Will Impact Billion-Dollar Deals; Old Media Should Buy New Media — When it comes to the shaky economy, the big question is how are deals getting done? A panel at FOBM offered some optimism, saying that companies with cash are looking for well-priced deals, and that old media companies will be looking to Silicon Valley for their next stage of evolution, but they also cautioned there’s no more mega-billion dollar acquisitions. Along with discussion, Newser Founder Michael Wolff, who is writing a book about News Corp (NYSE: NWS) Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, provided a number of colorful insights about Murdoch’s purchase of Dow Jones, one of the biggest media deals of last year. On how the market changed from a deals perspective in the last four weeks: Scott Peters, managing director of the Jordan Edmiston Group: “The deal market is fantastic. During the first half of this year, it [M&A] was really active and it’s still active, but the type of transactions have shifted. The mega-billion dollar market is gone. The middle of the market is still active with strategic deals—non-private equity deals—and the next flood will be full of challenging situations.” Wolff: “We are going to see a ramp up really quickly. I think you are going to see a vast reconfiguration.

Clearspring Leaps Into Widget Network Lead — Clearspring Technologies has vaulted into the top spot among widget networks in September with 254 million unique viewers worldwide, according to comScore’s latest Widget Metrix report. The company attributes its nearly 60% audience growth since August to its acquisition of social bookmarking site AddThis as well as new partnerships with publishers such as MetroLyrics and SnagFilms. The surge pushed Clearspring well past former category leader Gigya, which saw its viewers worldwide drop from 174 million to 161 million from August to September.

FT.com Trims Free Stories Back Again, Launches Chat Community — FT.com today launches a user-led chatroom, the first step in a six-month overhaul of the site designed to capitalise on the massive interest in financial news as markets collapse and recession looms across the world. The Long Room, named after a notorious but now closed City boozer, will be part of FT.com’s popular Alphaville news and analysis strand and allows users – by invitation only – to begin and run their own discussions and upload files. It’s part of attempts by the FT to make the site more interactive – and to ultimately increase readership across the site and convince more occasional readers to sign up to a paid subscription. In an interview with paidContent:UK FT.com MD Rob Grimshaw said the blog was a sign of things to come, and he gave a strong defence of the site’s part-paid business model.

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