Sentinel owners say election affected advertising

THE owners of the Londonderry Sentinel, Derry Journal and Newsletter newspapers have reported total advertising revenues were down 7.1 per cent over the first 18 weeks of 2010 compared to 2009 and that it plans to save £15m in overheads this year.

Conversely digital revenues across the Johnston Press group, which also owns the Scotsman and Yorkshire Post plus hundreds of regional publications throughout Britain and Ireland, were up 12.3 per cent over the same period.

Bosses at Johnston Press attributed the advertising dip - in part - to the General Election.

The firm also announced its intention of saving 15m on overheads year-on-year in 2010.

Johnston Press plc today , May 12, publishes its Interim Management Statement which has been drawn up for the 18 weeks to 8 May 2010.

The firm is obliged to do so under the UK Listing Authority's Disclosure and Transparency Rules.

The statement reads: "Total advertising revenues for the 18 weeks to 8 May 2010 were down 7.1% on a like for like basis.

"Within this overall advertising performance we have seen digital revenues over the 18 weeks increase by 12.3%.

"Advertising over the first Quarter was fairly stable. However, performance in April was a little more subdued, primarily due to the General Election.

"We would expect the Election's impact to continue through the second Quarter and therefore not see any significant improvements in the current trend until Q3 2010.

"Management of costs and cash continue to be key areas of focus for the Group and we expect to make total year on year cost savings in 2010 of at least 15 million, an increase from the previously advised 10 million.

"Net debt at the end of April 2010 was 419.1 million, a reduction of 3.0 million from the start of the year.

"Despite the slightly softer advertising performance anticipated in the second quarter, we expect our continued management of costs to produce full year results in line with current market expectations."