Blog Post

Guardian Digital Income Down ‘Marginally’ In Reduced GNM Loss

Guardian Media Group said digital revenue at its Guardian News & Media division “declined only marginally” in the year to March, as it announced slightly improved annual losses of £57.9 million at the news publisher.

In the 2009/10 annual report, outgoing GMG CEO Carolyn McCall says on digital: “We expect to see a return to growth in the coming year.”

The publisher doesn’t break out digital income from cross-media figures for its news division, which owns ContentNext Media, although reported comments from last year put it at £30 million.

In September, editor Alan Rusbridger said: “Since 2002/3, our spending on Guardian.co.uk (operational and capex) has exceeded revenue by just £20 million.”

Despite pursuing what Rusbridger is now calling a “mutualised newspaper” strategy (ie. free and open to connect online), the publisher is also trying not to be boxed in to what, in some eyes, has become an entrenched position….

This carefully-worded statement in the report from McCall, who had looked for opportunities to carve chargeable B2B media assets out of the portfolio, may appear to repeat The Guardian’s position on the paid content debate, but you should keep it on file as it’s actually the definitive stance…

“During 2009/10 GNM examined various models for charging for access to content on guardian.co.uk. Its conclusion was that, at present, a general paywall does not represent a sufficiently attractive commercial opportunity, especially given the impact it would have on the reach and in influence of our journalism.

“However, as Alan Rusbridger made clear when delivering the Cudlipp Lecture in January 2010, this is not an entrenched position, and the company will keep it under review. GNM will continue to explore emerging digital business models.”

From the statement by Liz Forgan, chair of GMG’s owner the Scott Trust: “Much work remains to be done to devise new business models and revenue streams. But the spirit of the web is free and open and it chimes well with the traditions of our journalism.”

Earnings Highlights…

Across Guardian Media Group, which owns more assets than just Guardian News & Media, an income dip of 9.9 percent to £280 million is attributed “substantially due to a fall in advertising and new media revenues” of 16.8 percent to £156 million.

The group technically lost £53.9 million but, after devaluing its Emap investment by £96.5 million and GMG Radio by £63.9 million, the final pre-tax loss comes in at £171 million, up from last year’s £96.7 million.

Guardian News & Media revenue fell by £32.6 million (13 percent) to £221 million, even after making 203 layoffs and saving £26.2 million. Losses hit £37.8 million but, after one-off charges including £12.9 million on restructuring, reached £57.9 million, slightly down from last year’s £61.2 million.

— Emap operating profit fell from £98.2 million to £90.1 million after restructuring cost £11.8 million.

— Trader Media Group operating profit dipped five percent to £104.8 million, which is okay considering the recent market for car sales. Digital is now an impressive 90 percent of profit.

Outgoing McCall’s total pay rose from £498,000 to £658,000 after a performance bonus of £143,000 topped up her £495,000 salary.