Media General reported broadcast revenue of $65.3 million in the first quarter, a 2.6% decrease over the same quarter last year. The absence of Olympics and Super Bowl programming on the Media General stations was cited as a factor, as was a major dip in political revenue, compared to last year.
Excluding those factors, broadcast revenue climbed 13% in the quarter.
Media General reported an overall operating loss in the first quarter of $4.2 million, compared with operating profit of $8.7 million in the first quarter last year. Total revenues in the quarter decreased 6.2% to $148.9 million.
The group's stations performed better than its other media properties. "Strong performances by our television stations and local media websites in the first quarter were offset by weaker results in print and Advertising Services operations," said Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer. "To mitigate revenue shortfalls, we managed expenses aggressively, and total operating costs increased just 2% from last year."
Local media websites produced a 20% increase in revenues, while total publishing revenues were down 9.8%.
Morton said the stations should help Media General's second half performance. "Even though this is an off-election year, we will benefit from the governor's race in Mississippi, and we expect issues advertising and early presidential campaign spending to ramp up in the latter part of this year," he said. "As of April 15, our full-year broadcast revenue was pacing 2% ahead of last year, despite the absence of elections, Olympics and Super Bowl advertising."
Media General expects broadcast revenues to be flat to up 2% in the second quarter.