Media General TV Revenues Climb 18%

RICHMOND, VA.: Media General reported just over $75 million in broadcast revenue for the third quarter, an 18 percent increase over the same quarter a year ago. Broadcasting paced Media General to a 3.3 percent gain in overall revenue for the quarter, at the sum of $163.2 million.

Richmond-based Media General reported operating income of $11.5 million in the quarter, an about face from the $67.7 million operating loss it reported in the third quarter of 2009.

Media General owns 18 TV stations, including WCMH Columbus and WJAR Providence, as well as newspapers and digital media.

"Our third-quarter operating results benefited from $9.7 million in political revenues compared with $1.5 million last year, and reflected particularly strong campaign spending in Florida and Ohio," said President and CEO Marshall N. Morton.

"Political advertising overall was lower than expectations, even though candidate spending was on target, mostly due to lower issues spending. At the same time, transactional advertising revenues strengthened in the quarter and offset the lower-than-expected political revenues. National television advertising, excluding Political, was up 12 percent, and Local time sales increased 4 percent. Automotive advertising, in particular, was strong, and the telecommunications and retail categories firmed as well."

Media General expects political to drive a blockbuster fourth quarter. The company forecasts broadcast revenues to climb 24 percent to 26 percent over the fourth quarter of last year, when the industry was particularly beset by economic doldrums. Total revenues are expected to grow 6 percent to 8 percent. — Michael Malone, Broadcasting & Cable