Television powers growth at Media General


It was another quarter of declining revenues for the newspaper side of Media General, but television revenues rose 13.1% and put overall revenues into positive territory. Look for TV to be up double digits and newspapers down again in Q3.

“Media General’s second-quarter operating results included $7 million in Political revenues and our television stations also benefited from increased automotive spending, which was up nearly 42% compared with last year,” said CEO Marshall Morton. “We were pleased to deliver continued moderation in the rate of decline in Publishing revenues, down 7% compared with last year. Year-over-year declines in Classified revenues moderated to the mid-to-low single digits in all markets except Florida.  Our North Carolina market produced a nearly 3% increase in Classified advertising in the quarter,” he noted.

TV revenues gained 13.1% in Q2 to $72.5 million. Political increased dramatically to $7.1 million from only $794K a year earlier, but it wasn’t the only growth driver. Local increased 4.3% to $42.7 million and national was up 5.6% to $22.2 million. Also, retransmission consent fees grew 20.1% to $4.7 million.

Digital Media also gained, with revenues up 7.9% to $10.7 million. Local advertising was the big driver, up 26.4% to $3.6 million. National gained 5.8% to $851K and Classified rose 15.8% to $2.4 million.

Newspaper revenues were down 7.2% to $82.9 million, with negative numbers nearly across the board. The only gain, 8.7% to $3.4 million, was in printing and distribution, where Media General gained with new contracts to print other companies’ newspapers. Local and national ad sales were down 8.5% each, to $36.6 million and $5.8 million respectively. Classified fell 10% to $19.7 million. Even circulation revenues were down, falling 4.6% to $16.7%.

Q3 is looking better, although still not returning to positive territory for the newspaper side. Media General told Wall Street to expect total revenues to be up 6-8%, with television up more than 20% — largely due to political spending – and for the newspaper revenue decline to moderate to a range of 3-5%. The company projects that free cash flow for all of 2010 should be $58-60 million. That includes a $26 million tax refund.