U.S. Media Revenue Set for Historic 2009 Decline

By Andrew Gauthier 

Advertising Age

Just how tough has the media space become? The nation’s top 100 media companies eked out 0.8% revenue growth in 2008 — and the reported revenue for top media firms in the first half of this year fell 4.3% from a year ago, according to Ad Age‘s analysis.

So not only was last year’s Media 100 revenue growth the lowest since 1991, this year it’s on track to show the first decline since Ad Age began ranking top media firms in 1981.

Remarkably, 11 of last year’s Media 100 firms have plunged into bankruptcy reorganization, overwhelmed in most cases by shrinking revenue and debt loads taken on during the blind optimism of the boom. Print media dominate the bankruptcy list: six newspaper companies, two magazine publishers and two yellow-pages publishers.

That points to the momentum going toward digital-media firms, right? Not so fast. Interactive is a mixed bag of hype and hope, with media revenue surging in 2008 at Google (up 23.2%) and flagging at Microsoft Corp. More…