Calling the Election

Forget about the politicians, the biggest loser on November 5th will be old media.

The Olympics are over.  The election will be over (and evidently $2.5 billion in political advertising this year wasn’t enough to stop a decline in overall media advertising through August).  Old media is already in steep decline and this recession is just getting going.

Like others, I have looked at the New York Times as a bellwether for traditional media’s predicament.  Silicon Alley Reporter has been scrutinizing the Times’ latest results and their precarious financial situation.  They could default on their debt (and now officially have junk bond status) and the dividend is at risk which ultimately could result in the company being put up for sale (“Hello, Rupert?”).  Their online business is doing well, but it can’t offset the deepening hole from the (still at least as of this writing) much larger print business.  Something will have to give in the next year.

Most of the rest of the newspapers, magazines and TV broadcasters are not far behind.  It is going to be ugly out there in 2009 for anything ad-supported, online or offline.