Media General reported $322 million in revenue for the third quarter, a 2% decrease compared to Q3 2014.
Local advertising revenue and retransmission consent fees fueled an 11% increase in net local revenue to $212 million. National revenue was up as well, though only 1% to $52 million. However, political revenue fell $27 million in this non-national election year.
Excluding political, combined core local and national sales climbed 4%. The all-important automotive category of sales was up 7% from last year’s third quarter.
Despite a 3% increase in digital revenue to $44 million, Media General’s adjusted EBITDA was down 22% to $81 million for the quarter.
“We believe we are well-positioned for a great 2016 as we capitalize on our scale, political footprint and the popularity of live events, such as the Summer Olympics on our 14 NBC stations,” said Vincent L. Sadusky, president and CEO.
Sadusky also said that Media General plans to participate in the upcoming broadcast spectrum auction “given we have a number of stations in high-demand markets.”
The opening bid prices released recently were higher in many of Media General’s market than it had originally expected. “We think we’ve got a reasonable shot that some of these markets will need to have spectrum cleared and we’ve got a chance at having our prices cleared,” he said.
Nevertheless, the opening bid prices “on the whole did not impact our previous estimates,” Sadusky said. “In the end it’s impossible to know where we’ll end up.”
Sadusky was also asked about FCC rules for those participating in the auction. “We don’t think that the rules will impact our strategic conversations at this point,” he said.
Board Continues to Recommend Meredith Deal
Despite Media General exchanging information with Nexstar Broadcasting Group to better evaluate its $4.1 billion unsolicited acquisition bid, Sadusky said the board still recommends the original Meredith Corp. deal, a merger worth $2.4 billion that would create the third largest station group in the U.S.
He noted that Media General signed a non-disclosure agreement with Nexstar and have been sharing information with the company.
During Nexstar’s earnings call Tuesday, Perry Sook, chairman, president and CEO, was optimistic about Media General choosing its deal. “Past history and recent results, both ours and those of other involved parties, indicate that we should prevail in our efforts to acquire Media General,” he said.