Washington Post Co. Chairman Katharine Graham said yesterday that 1978 "looks like another good year," following record earnings by the communications firm last year and a 41 percent increase in profits during the first quarter.
She made the statement at the start of the company's annual meeting of stockholders, a two-hour session dominated by questions and criticism about Washington Post reporting by half a dozen representatives of Accuracy in Media Inc., a Washington organization that monitors some press activities.
Reed Irvine, chairman and founder of the group, also was nominated to the Post Co. board of directors. Although Irvine promised to serve without compensation, his brief election campaign netted just 19 votes compared with 5,531,784 for his nearest rival - International Business Machines Corp's general counsel and former U.S. attorney general Nicholas [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Katzenbach.
Irvine had been nominated from the floor by the Rev. Lester Kinsolving, a White House press corps gadfly and editor or a supplement to the Fairfax Globe who joined Accuracy in Media spokesmen in several rounds of complaints to Graham. The criticism dealt mainly with reporting of government secrets and alleged lapses in coverage of Southeast Asia and anticommunist activities - accusations that were refuted by the Post Co. chairman.
Another gadfly, professional stockholder Evelyn Davis, proclaimed loudly that hers was not one of the 19 votes cast for Irvine.
At the brief business session, Graham reviewed company gains during the past year, when profits jumped 45 percent to $35.5 million ($4.18 a share) from $24.5 million ($2.72) in 1976, while revenues increased 16 percent to $436 million.
In her report and in response to several questions, Graham said:
The Post Co. is selling WTOP-AM and WTOP-TV "with deep regret . . . to resolve uncertainty" exship of broadcast properties in the same market where a company publishes newspapers
The sale of the radio station and exchange of the TV property for another station in Detroit, a larger market, should be completed this year but will have no material impact on revenues or earnings, she added.
Purchases of class B shares by the company are continuing, including 154,000 to date in 1978 and 742,000 shares last year. Altogether, the Post Co. has purchased 1,918,000 shares of its stock in recent years at a cost of $38.7 million - with an average price per sahre of $20.7 compared with a current market price in excess of $40.
Two apartments are maintained in New York for use by Post Co. executives while on business there, where the firm's Newsweek subsidiary is located. According to a proxy statement for the annual meeting, the cost of such facilities for all officers does not exceed $15,000 a year.
Legal fees paid by the firm last year totaled $1.5 million - mostly for labor counsel.
All directors nominated by management, including Katzenbach, were elected by the stockholders. Rejoining the board is Peter Derow, the president of Newsweek who resigned last September to join CBS but who came back to Newsweek on March 20.
In another development, The Post newspaper fled circulation figures with the Audit Bureau of Circulations showing record daily and Sunday sales for the six months ended March 3.
Daily circulation increased 6,600 to an average of 561,640, and Sunday sales increased 35,000 to an average of more than 800,000 compared with the same period in 1976-1977. The figures still must be audited by ABC. Circulation figures of the Washington Star in the same period have not been reported.