Media General Adds Furlough Days

RICHMOND, VA.: Media General is adding more compulsory furlough days for employees through the end of the year, reports indicate. The Richmond Times-Dispatchsaid employees will be required to take five unpaid days off by the end of the year, and at least one by Sept. 27, the end of Media General’s (NYSE: MEG) third quarter. The Tampa Bay Business Journal is also reporting the additional furloughs, citing a memo from MEG vice president Jim Zimmerman to employees that the company had experienced “last-minute advertiser cancellation and deferrals of planned spending.”

The company first instated furloughs in February, requiring employees to take 10 unpaid days off. At the time, Marshall Morton, president and CEO of Media General said the economic outlook “requires us to be even more cautious than we already have been regarding our revenue expectations. Despite aggressive sales initiatives and significant cost reductions already implemented, we need to build in additional expense savings to offset the revenue shortfalls we anticipate.”

The initial furloughs were to be taken during Media General’s first three quarters. Matching 401k contributions also were suspended in April, through the end of the year for a combined anticipated savings of $28 million. Results from the most recently completed quarter were nonetheless tight. MEG posted a 2Q profit of $20.6 million, but revenues were $163.8 million, down from $204.9 million the year before.

MEG has 18 TV stations, 21 daily newspapers and around 200 weeklies among its media properties, and employees around 5,000 people. Shares of MEG rose in early trading to nearly $9.50 before falling to around $8.50 in mid-afternoon.
-- Deborah D. McAdams

PreviousTVBcoverage of Media General:
July 22, 2009: “Media General TV Revenues Drop 21 Percent
Second-quarter TV station revenues fell for Media General’s 18 stations, even as time sales picked up in May and June. Media General’s (NYSE: MEG) broadcast segment generated $64.7 million, down 21 percent from a year ago, reflecting a dip in both national and local time sales.

April 17, 2009: “Media General TV Station Profit Plunges”
Media General’s 19 TV stations generated around $3.3 million in profit in 1Q09, down 57 percent from same period a year ago. The decline was equal to the $4.4 million of political revenues Media General (NYSE: MEG) took in during 1Q08. Total revenues decline by 19 percent from nearly $75 million last year to $60.6 million 1Q09. Gross time sales declined by about 25 percent. Local was down 20 percent and national was down 21 percent. Lower automotive spending was the main factor in both categories.

March 13, 2009
: “Media General to Shutter 30-year-old Washington Bureau”
“We very much regret having to take this step,” said Graham Woodlief, president of the publishing division. "However, as the economy continues to contract, and businesses and consumers continue to reduce spending, our advertising revenues have been adversely affected at unprecedented levels…. we must continue to find ways to align our costs with the available revenue.”

January 29, 2009: “Media General TV Stations Post Profit”
Media General’s 19 TV stations generated revenues of $87.5 million for the quarter ending last Dec. 28, the Richmond, Va., multimedia group reported. The total was down nearly 7 percent from the $94 million posted 4Q07. The division reported a profit of $21.6 million, down nearly 9 percent from 4Q07.