Actually, The FT Is Still Exposed To The Advertising Downturn

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Even before the economy turned bad, the FT was working hard to amp up its subscription funding and reduce its reliance on advertising.

But FT Publishing’s 2009 operating profit sank 47 percent from the prior year (to £39 million) – and parent Pearson (NYSE: PSO) blames it on the “tough market conditions for financial and corporate advertising“. Thankfully, the wider FT Group slowed less, due to 22 percent more profits from its Interactive Data division.

“The impact of advertising revenue declines was partly mitigated by growth in content revenues and the resilience of our subscription businesses,” says Pearson in its earnings today.

In the last decade, FT Group has slimmed advertising from 52 percent of its income mix to 19 percent, and editor Lionel Barber CEO John Ridding reckons direct content income will overtake that from ads by 2012.

But that’s partly because FT Group is busy augmenting the paper with specialist subscription-data acquisitions – and partly because, like everyone, FT still runs ads. Says Pearson: “We do not see the advertising cycle turning any time soon; but we do expect the FT Group

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