The important factor, though, was the direction. Television time sales, driven by political, increased 15.5%, while newspaper ad sales declined 20.1%. All in all, October revenues were down 5.8% for Media General. CEO Marshall Morton liked the political boost, but noted that there wasn’t the rate pressure seen in past political years.
"Political revenues in October were driven by presidential campaign spending, mainly in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia; U.S. congressional races in Ohio, North Carolina, Mississippi and South Carolina; state elections in Ohio; and issue spending in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Mississippi," said Morton. "Through fiscal October, which ended November 2, 2008, our total Political revenues were $35.5 million. For 2008, our Political revenues will total nearly $38 million. The volume of Political advertising on Media General television stations was in line with our expectations; however, total billings for that volume were less robust than in some prior election years because soft National and Local transactional sales exerted downward pressure on rates.”
By the numbers, TV net revenues were up 8.4% for October to $40.2 million. Gross TV time sales grew 15.5% to $44.2 million, but that was all due to political jumping to $20.8 million from $2.1 million. Otherwise, local was down 34% to $15.1 million and national was off 37.1% to $8.4 million.
Publishing net revenues fell 16.9% to $42.6 million, with advertising down 20.1% to $34.7 million. Classified plunged 37.9%, while retail was down 9.5% and national 5.6%.
Interactive Media was a bright spot, with revenues up 6.8% to $3.7 million.
"The revenue growth in the Interactive Media Division was attributable to a 51.7% increase in Local advertising, driven by our market focus on sales initiatives, and another excellent monthly performance by DealTaker.com,” said Morton.