Media General CEO upbeat about TV in 2011


In his quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts after reporting Q1 results, Media General CEO Marshall Morton claimed some signs of improvement for the newspaper business, but mainly noted that the television business is strong and its momentum is expected to continue.

“In addition, our television stations have already been very successful lining up new business this year to help replace last year’s political revenues. Big drivers of this effort are incentives programs aimed at volume advertisers and themed programming targeted to particular advertiser categories. Several of our stations are introducing new newscasts in non-traditional times in the mornings and evenings and others are introducing new local variety shows,” Morton told the analysts.

“We look for early spending on political campaigns and issues in 2011 and, in line with the thinking of many industry watchers, we believe the levels could be significant in the latter part of the year,” he noted regarding the second half of this year. “Long term, we’re enthused about the prospects for mobile digital TV delivered over the air to all kinds of hand-held devices.”

Turning to guidance, Morton gave this view of the future: “While forecasting in our business remains a challenge, we have always been committed to providing investors with the best guidance we can offer at a particular point in time. For the second quarter we currently expect broadcast revenues will be flat to up 2%. Digital Media revenues are expected to increase 3-5%, with continued double-digit growth from our websites offsetting decreases from Advertising Services. Publishing revenues should be better than the first quarter and we believe they will decrease 3-7% in the second quarter. We will continue to aggressively manage expenses and expect the increase in the second quarter to be 2-4%.”