Media General Revs: Print Dives, Digital Holds

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Without the big Olympic and political advertising results of a year ago, Media General's financial results went south in the first quarter of 2011.

It posted a larger net loss in the first quarter of 2011 -- $25.8 million versus $16.7 million a year ago. Total revenues declined 6.2% -- or $9.9 million --- to $148.9 million. Media General notes that the actual dollar decline was nearly that of the $9.3 million which came from Olympics, Super Bowl and political ad revenue.

Broadcast revenues held up a bit better than the company's print operations. They declined 2.6% to $65.3 million, while print went south 9.8% to $73.3. The company says when taking out special Olympics, Super Bowl and political advertising, broadcast networks were up 13% from a year ago.

"Strong performances by our television stations and local media Web sites in the first quarter were offset by weaker results in print and Advertising Services operations," stated Marshall N. Morton, president and CEO of Media General. "To mitigate revenue shortfalls, we managed expenses aggressively, and total operating costs increased just 2% from last year."

Digital revenues were down a bit to $10.3 million from $10.5 million. But this came from lower results in its Advertising Services group. Looking at local sites' revenue, the company says there was growth of 20%.

National print revenues dropped 30%, from reduced spending by telecommunications and national automotive advertisers. But printing and distribution revenues climbed 24% from attracting third-party distribution and commercial printing customers.

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