Gannett cites progress in digital subs

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Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012 11:14 am | Updated: 12:22 pm, Tue Jun 26, 2012.

Gannett Inc. Co. said its digital subscriber strategy is on track to contribute the $100 million in incremental earnings the company projected last year when it outlined plans to launch metered paywalls across its U.S. Community Publishing properties.

Appearing at last week’s presentation before the Media and Entertainment Analysts of New York, GCI CEO Gracia Martore said the company expects subscription revenue to increase by 25 percent by 2013. About half of USCP’s 80 papers now have a digital initiative in place, with 17 launching in May alone.

“Our new all-access subscription model has been rolled out in 38 markets and is progressing as anticipated,” she told analysts.

USCP President Bob Dickey said the company has also picked up about 12,000 digital-only subscribers in the last few months; a comprehensive marketing plan targeting non-print subscribers is now under way.

Gannett Publishing Services, the unit formed to oversee production and distribution, is also hitting its target to generate $40 million in cost savings, she said. An agreement with an undisclosed vendor will yield another $60 million in savings over the next five years as GPS uses the vendor to corral costs associated with third-party printing of such products as Clipper magazine. The agreement with the vendor also allows Gannett to use the supplier’s existing procurement network to market excess manufacturing, packaging and distribution.

Other cost-savings will be identified as Gannett realigns its real estate holdings, with The Des Moines (Iowa) Register and Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., each slated to move into less expensive offices this year.

Meantime, USA Today will undergo a strategic shift into and have all of its digital platforms redesigned as the paper gets ready to celebrate its 30th anniversary this September. Larry Kramer, president and publisher, said USA Today will be able to transmit news, information and video from a broad range of Gannett newspaper and television sources across multiple platforms to millions of users as part of the paper’s transformation.

“The goal is to change USA Today from a newspaper brand to a news brand,” he told analysts.

“We will be offering a new form of storytelling.”

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