Media General boosts political expectations


The US economy is still soft, but Media General CEO Marshall Morton sees signs of improvement in Q1, including a boost for the company’s NBC stations from the Winter Olympics and for its CBS stations from the Super Bowl. But looking further ahead in 2010, Morton is really enthusiastic about political advertising.

Media General had previously been predicting that 2010 political revenues would be $32-34 million, but Morton told analysts in his quarterly conference call that the expectation is now $42 million. “We expect robust spending as a result of the Democratic response to the Republican wins in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Our Florida and Ohio markets in particular stand to benefit. In addition, we believe last week’s Supreme Court decision will provide a positive impact as corporations and unions can more easily advertise to support or oppose candidates and also engage in issues advertising during the final days of the campaign,” he noted.

For comparison, Media General booked just over $50 million in political advertising in 2006, the previous non-presidential election year.

Morton also noted that several Media General television stations are reporting continued improvement in automotive advertising – “driving up rates faster than expected in some places.”

The improved outlook for Q1 and all of 2010 came as Media General reported that broadcasting revenues declined 17% in Q4 to $71.6 million.