Media General 4Q09 Broadcast Revenues Decline 17 Percent

RICHMOND, VA.: Revenue for Media General’s 18 TV stations fell 17 percent on reduced political revenues, the company said today. Broadcast revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $71.6 million compared to $86.6 million a year earlier. Total 2009 revenues were $259 million for the stations, compared to $322.1 million a year ago. Media General (NYSE: MEG) no longer breaks out segment income, but instead divides the business into geographic segments.

Consolidated 4Q09 revenues for its print, broadcast and digital media properties came in at $177 million compared to $206 million a year earlier. Net income was $27.4 million, or $1.18 per diluted share, for 4Q09, compared with a net loss of $85.5 million, or $3.86 per diluted share for 4Q08. Operating income adjusted for income taxes, severance and impairment was $22.9 million for 4Q09 compared to $16.4 million a year earlier.

“The 2009 quarter included only $3.7 million of political revenues, compared with $23.4 million in the 2008 fourth quarter,” said Marshall N. Morton, president and CEO. “Advertising sales strengthened as the quarter unfolded. In the month of December, total revenues were essentially even with December 2008.”

MEG reduced its workforce by 900 people in 2009, plus it implemented five furlough days in the fourth quarter. Newsprint expense declined 57 percent, reflecting lower prices and lower consumption.

A full-year, 2009 net loss of $35.8 million, or $161 a share, was posted on consolidated revenues of $657.6 million. Results were impacted by an $84.2 million impairment charge. Last year, MEG posted a net loss of $632 million, or $28.60 a share, on revenues of $797.4 million for 2008.

Debt at the end of 2009 was $712 million, compared with $730 million at the end of 2008.

“In 2010, we will benefit from an improving economy, revenues from the Winter Olympics on our eight NBC stations, and political revenues, which we estimate will be approximately $42 million across all our markets for the year,” Morton said. “For the full year, we expect our total revenues to increase in the mid-single digits. Total operating expenses are expected to increase in the mid-single digits, in part because we are not planning a furlough program in 2010. Our current budget estimates free cash flow of approximately $48 million to50 million for the year.”

Shares of MEG rose 7 percent to $8.90 in today’s trading.

More on MEG
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MEG expects 2010 political revenues of between $32 million and $34 million. The Winter Olympics is expected to generate $7 million for MEG’s eight NBC affiliates. Retransmission fees will come in between $18 million and $19 million compared to $16 million this year.

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