Florida downturn taking its toll on Media General


Adding the contribution of the four new NBC affiliates purchased from NBC Universal, April revenues for Media General were up 7.7% to 93.3 million. But excluding those newbies, total company revenues were down 2.6% for the month. One big factor is the company's big media properties in a place that used to be a hot growth state: Florida.

"The Florida economy is reeling from the impact of higher homeowners' insurance premiums, property taxes and energy prices," said CEO Marshall Morton. At The Tampa Tribune in April, classified advertising revenues declined 34.8%. At the same time, national and retail advertising revenues at the paper increased 11.4% and 1%, respectively. Lower help-wanted advertising in the Tribune reflected an ongoing slowdown in job creation locally, especially in the construction industry. Decreased real estate classified advertising was due to the significant slowdown in Florida's housing market, as well as comparisons to last year's exceptionally strong level of advertising. Lower automotive classified advertising in Tampa reflected national trends associated with ongoing spending reductions by domestic automakers. Earlier this month, Media General announced staff reductions for both the Tampa Tribune and WFLA-TV (4/11/07 TVBR #71).

While publishing revenues were down 6.5% to 53.7 million, with ad revenues down 7.2%, the broadcast division fared better. Including, the four new stations, revenues were up 34.9% to 37 million, including a one million sales gain by the company's TV equipment subsidiary. Same station ad time sales were down 0.3%, with local down 1.8% – blamed mostly on the auto sector – and national up 1%.

Interactive Media Division revenues shot up 33.7% to 3.3 million, including the websites for the new stations, with local ad sales up 63.2%.