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No. 12: Gannett

Arlington, Va.

Revenue: $6.2 billion

Net income: $1.7 billion

Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher (in terms of circulation), and just about every one of its peers, is feeling the squeeze from a soft economy and a dreadful advertising market — with higher newsprint prices thrown in for an extra headache.

Dot-com spending is gone, and across the board national and help-wanted ads have taken a big hit. Gannett’s 22 TV stations, buoyed by strong political advertising last year, are also hurting.

The slump wasn’t evident yet in last year’s numbers. (However, the substantial net profit figure includes a gain from the sale of cable systems and other items, without which it would have been $972 million.)

The year 2000 was one of growth as Gannett bought Central Newspapers and a big group of weekly and niche publications from Thomson Newspapers. Company, the parent of flagship USA Today, owns 99 newspapers in the U.S. along with hundreds of nondaily pubs. Its Newsquest subsidiary in the U.K. publishes nearly 300 titles.

Giant USA Today posted ad revenue of $430 million last year.

Gannett, and all other advertising-driven media companies, is waiting for a turnaround. Company is seen as an acquirer if and when the Federal Communications Commission repeals the cross-ownership rule, a federal regulation that forbids one company from owning a newspaper and a TV station in the same market.

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