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Scripps profit falls; ads slide after attacks

Terrorism hurts advertising dollars in long term

The E.W. Scripps media group said Wednesday its third-quarter profit dropped 36% to $22.6 million, as an ongoing slide in advertising worsened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Cincinnati-based company, which operates 10 TV stations and 21 daily newspapers plus various cable webs, said revenue was off 16% to $342.1 million in the latest quarter.

“At Scripps, we believe the intrinsic value of our company is particularly evident during times such as these,” CEO Kenneth Lowe said. “Our shareholders will continue to benefit from the growth of our cable television networks and the fundamental strengths of our local newspapers and television stations.”

Difficult developments

But the Scripps topper also acknowledged more difficult developments.

“At our broadcast television stations, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks had a direct, negative effect on operating results that already were challenged by persistent advertising weakness and difficult comparisons resulting from record political advertising revenues in 2000,” Lowe said. “All nine of our network-affiliated stations broadcast 36 hours of continuous, commercial-free network and local news coverage following the terrorist attacks.”

On a more upbeat note, Scripps’ Home & Garden Television and Food Network webs marked quarterly revenue climbs of 16% and 9%, respectively.

Investors seemed undeterred from their recent enthusiasm for Scripps shares. The stock has gained 8% over the past year amid speculation of a takeover by Disney or another conglom, and shares were up $1.91, or 3%, at $60.51 in midday trading Wednesday.

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