Media General: Q1 Revs Flat, But Retrans Fees, Digital Up

Restructuring into more of a pure-play TV company, Media General is making progress -- but still in the red.

The Richmond, Va.-based company trimmed its net losses in half -- to $17.7 million in the first quarter of 2013 from $34.4 million in the first quarter of 2012.

Some of the savings came from lower cost structure: George L. Mahoney, president and CEO of Media General, stated: "After becoming a pure-play broadcaster last year, one of the significant, very early steps we took was to reduce the size of our corporate structure, which had been scaled to serve both newspapers and television stations."

First-quarter revenues were $73.9 million, about the same as $74.2 million last year.

Media General benefitted from sharply higher revenue from retrans fees, up 55% to $4.8 million. Political advertising dropped significantly from the year-ago big political season. The company pulled in $6.2 million in the first quarter of 2012 -- and much less this time around, at $507,000. Taking political advertising out of the picture, revenues increased 6%.

Super Bowl revenues on the company's CBS stations this year were $1.2 million -- up 33%, compared with the last time the Super Bowl aired on CBS in 2010. In 2012, the company's Super Bowl revenues were $2.8 million on the company's NBC stations. Those stations are in larger markets and typically generate higher revenues.

The automotive ad category rose 2.4% over last year. Other improving categories include restaurants, furniture, home improvement, financial institutions and grocery. On the other end, declining ad categories included professional services, retail, telecommunications and entertainment.

Media General said its digital revenues rose 18% during the period.



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