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Media General TV Revenues Drop 21 Percent

RICHMOND, VA.: 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.

National fell by $6.9 million, or 25 percent; local was down $13.6 million, also around 25 percent. Lower automotive and telecommunications spending was cited as the main factor affecting decreases in both categories. Political revenues in 2Q09 were $800,000, down $2 million from the period a year ago.

Operating profit was $11.3 million versus $14.9 million last year. MEG said “time sales were quite weak in April but strengthened somewhat in May and June.”

Broadcast expenses decreased 19.6 percent. Excluding severance, layoffs and furloughs reduced salary expense by nearly 23 percent.

Combined revenues for the TV stations, print publications and Web sites totaled $163.8 million, down from $204.9 million a year ago. Net income was $20.6 million, or 90 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $532.2 million in 2Q08, when MEG took a non-cash impairment of $532.1 million. The current quarter also included a $7.1 million after-tax gain on the sale of WCWJ-TV in Jacksonville, Fla., to Nexstar Broadcasting.

Marshall N. Morton, MEG president and CEO noted that as of July 1, the company shifted to a geographically based operating structure versus one defined by platforms.

“Under the new structure, our leaders are responsible for the success of all of our media properties within a defined market area, not just a particular media platform,” he said in a statement.

Beginning with 3Q09, Media General will report financial results based on its five geographic market segments and a sixth segment that includes the company’s interactive advertising services and certain other operations. In conjunction with its 3Q09 earnings release, MEG will include results from the first two quarters that reflect the new structure.

Previous TVB coverage of Media General:
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.