TV revenues gain, print still down for Media General


Media General proudly announced operating income of $8.7 million for Q1, compared to a loss of $11.6 million a year ago. That came from cost cutting efforts and a double-digit increase in television revenues, while newspaper revenues fell again.

Broadcast revenues rose 12.1% to $67.1 million. Local spot rose 12.3% and national 13.1%. Also, retransmission consent revenues shot up 27.5%.

The newspaper business, however, saw revenues drop 9.8% to $81.3 million. The company noted that was an improvement over the 14% decline in Q4.

Digital Media revenues were up 9.8% to $10.5 million.

“Media General’s first-quarter operating results improved markedly year-over-year.  We benefited from strong advertising sales during the Winter Olympics and March Madness, and Political spending began to ramp up,” said CEO Marshall Morton. “We also benefited from our lower cost structure.  These factors together produced a turnaround in segment operating profit: income of $19.4 million this year, compared with a loss of $780,000 last year.  Every segment contributed to this improvement,” he added.

“In March, total revenues increased 2% over March 2009. Our broadcast business has very strong momentum that is expected to continue as Political spending increases. Robust Digital Media revenue growth is also expected to continue, as we focus on new online and mobile revenue streams. While newspaper revenues decreased compared to prior year, the declines are now single digits, except in Florida, where the economy is still under significant pressure from unemployment and a very soft housing market,” said Morton.

Under Media General’s new regional structure, the Virginia/Tennessee segment saw its profits rise to $7.6 million from $2 million a year earlier; Florida turned to a profit of $1.2 million from a loss of $3 million; the Mid-South segment profit was $4.7 million, up from $1.1 million; North Carolina turned to a profit of $1.1 million from a loss of $1.6 million; and the Ohio/Rhode Island segment (the only one which has no newspapers) saw profits rise to $1.4 million from $591K.