Media General comps sink on lack of political


Media GeneralThe odd-year comparables for television groups are always challenging, and it was far too big of a hole for Media General to dig out of after last year’s epic political spending. But it did show growth in its core advertising categories.

Q3 net revenue fell from $93.752M to $78.489M, reflecting the massive drop in the political category, which went from $19.6M to $1M.

MG said that excluding political and a second hole punched into its results by the lack of summer Olympics activity, its results were quite decent, rising 7.6%.

Another debit was the loss of $1.2M on expenses related to its acquisition of Young Broadcasting.

President/CEO George L. Mahoney discussed the results at some length. He said, “Consistent with our guidance, Core Local and National gross time sales increased 7.6% in this year’s third quarter, excluding the impact of 2012 Summer Olympics advertising revenue. Digital revenue in the quarter grew 21% this year, an acceleration over the solid growth rates we achieved in the first half of the year.”

Mahoney continued, “Our retransmission revenues in the third quarter were $13.2 million, compared with $9.4 million last year, an increase of 41%. Although this figure was impacted somewhat as a result of the absence, beginning on July 1, of a planned increase in the rates paid by DISH, we’re very pleased with this growth.”

“Moreover,” he added, “total operating costs decreased by approximately $1 million, or 1.3%, in this year’s third quarter. This decrease reflected a $4.3 million reduction in corporate and other expenses, partially offset by a $2.3 million increase in station operating costs and $1.2 million of merger-related expenses. Broadcast cash flow in the current quarter increased 21% from the preceding odd year of 2011, to $23 million this year, compared with $19 million in the third quarter of 2011, and our broadcast cash flow margin also improved over the same period in 2011.”

Mahoney concluded, “Media General looks forward to completing our merger with Young Broadcasting. We’ve worked actively with Young management for the past several months to ensure a smooth transition. On November 7, 2013, we will hold a Special Shareholders Meeting to consider and vote on matters necessary to complete the merger. Assuming the FCC has approved our license transfers before our shareholders meeting, we plan to close the transaction very shortly thereafter,”