Media General reports off-year revenue drop


With $9.3 million of Olympics, Super Bowl and political revenues from Q1 2010 that didn’t repeat this year, Media General saw television revenues decline in Q1 2011. As you would expect, newspaper revenues were down even more for the quarter.

“Strong performances by our television stations and local media websites in the first quarter were offset by weaker results in print and Advertising Services operations,” said CEO Marshall Morton, pictured. “To mitigate revenue shortfalls, we managed expenses aggressively, and total operating costs increased just 2% from last year,” he noted.

“We were pleased that our Broadcast television stations continued their strong performance. Total Broadcast revenues decreased $1.8 million, or 2.6%, from last year, despite the absence of $7.6 million in Olympics revenues and nearly $1 million in Super Bowl revenues. Political revenues of $188,000 this year compared with $980,000 last year. Excluding those amounts, Broadcast revenues increased 13% in the first quarter. This strong performance underscores the fundamental strength of television advertising as well as the outstanding efforts of our stations to generate new business,” said Morton.

Broadcast revenues were down 2.6% to $65.3% in Q1, with local up 1.3% to $42.5 million and national down 12.7% to $20.2 million. Retrans provided a boost, though, with Cable/Satellite fees up 15.9% to $5.3 million.

Publishing continued to struggle, with total revenues down 9.8% to $73.3 million. National advertising fell 30.3% to $3.9 million, classified 17.8% to $15.6 million and local 8.1% to $32.4 million. Circulation revenues were down only 7% to $16.1 million.

Even the Digital Media segment had a down quarter, with revenues of 2% to $10.3 million. However, local media websites associates with the company’s TV stations and newspapers posted a 20% increase in revenues, Morton reported. The decline for the segment was due to a 30.8% drop to $3.1 million for the “Advertising Services & Other” category. Local ad sales were up 34.7% to $4 million, national gained 1.5% to $835K and classified increased 7.1% to $2.3 million.

After giving Wall Street analysts some time to digest the numbers, Morton was upbeat about prospects for the rest of this year in television, particularly early political spending, in his quarterly conference call. Click here for his comments.

Here is the companys’ official statement Q2: “For the second quarter of 2011, the company expects Broadcast revenues to be flat to up 2% from last year. Digital Media revenues are expected to increase 3-5%, with continued double-digit growth from the company’s websites offsetting decreases in Advertising Services. Publishing revenues are expected to decrease 3-7%. As a result of aggressive expense management, the increase in total operating costs in the second quarter is expected to be limited to 2-4% from last year.”