Ad revenue down 8 per cent at Johnston Press

Advertising revenue at regional newspaper publisher Johnston Press fell 8 per cent in the 18 weeks to 5 November – an improvement on the first half of the year when the figure was down 10 per cent year on year.

There was also an improvement in circulation revenue which fell 1.6 per cent in the same period compared with a 1.8 per cent drop in the first half of 2011.

In an interim management statement released this morning Johnston said that display advertising, the group’s largest revenue category, continued to perform ‘relatively well in a difficult UK advertising market’and recorded a year-on-year decline of 3.4 per cent.

Digital revenue rose 4.4 per cent and was driven by its business directory Find It and increased display advertising following the redesign of its websites, according to the publisher, whose papers include The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post.

Johnston’s cost-cutting measures, which included jobs losses in South Yorkshire that resulted in an indefinite strike by NUJ members, are projected to result in full year like-for-like cost savings in excess of £20m.

Figures released in August showed the number of full-time staff at the company had been cut from 5,228 at the start of year to 5,049.

Elsewhere, net debt has also fallen from £386.7m at the start of the year to £357m as of 5 November.

In a statement Johnston said: ‘With the continued cost savings and the improved advertising declines, we expect full year results for 2011 to be in line with current market expectations.’

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