Media General Earnings Off 20%

Signs of hope as fourth quarter starts
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Media General reported broadcast revenue of $63.4 million for the third quarter, a 20% drop from the $79.4 million it posted in the same quarter last year. The media company’s total revenues declined 18% for the quarter. Total operating costs were down 18% in the quarter; Media General reported that it had 770 fewer full time-equivalent employees this year, compared to last year.

“The 18% decline in total revenues represents a sequential improvement from the 20% decrease in the second quarter of 2009. The improvement is made more notable when we consider that last year’s third quarter included $12.5 million in Olympics revenues as well as $6 million more in political revenues,” said President/CEO Marshall N. Morton. “Nonetheless, the advertising environment in the third quarter remained challenging, and we experienced lower Classified, Local and National revenues overall.”

Morton said cable and satellite retransmission fees were $4.2 million in this year’s third quarter, compared to just under $1 million last year.

The chief exec said things looked brighter for the fourth quarter. “We are seeing signs of strengthening in advertiser spending,” Morton said. “While we do not expect to fully replace the $23.4 million of political revenues we generated in last year’s fourth quarter, we believe that Local and National advertiser spending patterns are firming somewhat, especially on the broadcast side. September produced the smallest revenue decline we’ve seen all year, down 12%.”

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