Dismal April for Media General


Citing the “continued deep recession in Florida,” Media General CEO Marshall Morton reported that publishing revenues were down 14.3% in April to $44.9 million. Television fared a bit better, with a boost from political offsetting core business declines, but was still off 8% to $30.6 million. Broadcast division gross time sales were down 3.8% for the month to $32.4 million, mostly due to softness on the national side, which was down 15.9% to $10.2 million. Local declined 1.2% to $20.9 million. Political revenues were $1.3 million, up from $353,000 a year earlier.

The bright spot for the month was the still-small Interactive Media division. There revenues increased 15.5% to $3.8 million.

Meanwhile, the company’s staff cutting continues, with 750 net positions to be eliminated by early Q3. Broadcasting accounts for 45 of those job cuts, with the biggest slashing in print, 745 positions, and 20 across the corporate staff. That is being counterbalanced by 60 new hires in Interactive to arrive at the 750 number.

"Media General continues to implement its announced performance improvement initiatives across all parts of the company and particularly within the Publishing Division," said Morton. "Our efforts to reduce operating costs have necessarily included personnel. We began our workforce reductions in early 2007 in response to the deepening recession in Florida and the overall slowing of the U.S. economy. Compared to our peak 2007 employment at the start of the year, by the beginning of the third quarter of this year we will have reduced the number of full-time equivalent positions from 6,900 to 6,150, or a total of 750. This equates to annualized cost savings of $40 million, the full amount of which will be realized in 2009. We expect to expense severance costs of $4 million to $4.5 million in the second quarter of 2008. In addition, we anticipate further improvement in profitability through reduced newsprint consumption and lower discretionary spending as well as new revenue development initiatives. We will be better able to quantify the full impact of these actions later in the year," the CEO said in his monthly report.