Media General: Ad Sales Down In July, Publishing Is Hardest Hit

Media General logoMedia General said ad sales dropped 6.6% in July for its 20 local stations, even with a bump from political dollars. But the company said it took its biggest hit in its publishing operations as classified dollars continued to drop.

As with most station groups, the company was hurt by a sharp drop in the national spot market; its local business declined by a modest 1.7%.

Total TV sales last month came in at $26.8 million. Year-to-date sales are down 4.5% (to $189.2 million), meaning that it may need a strong performance from this month's Olympics and heavy spending in political swing states this fall to draw more dollars than a year ago.

The company operates NBC affiliates in Tampa, Raleigh-Durham, Columbus, Providence, Birmingham and elsewhere. Its Florida stations (it also has the CW affiliate in Jacksonville) and Columbus outlet should generate significant spending by Presidential candidates--as well as its outlets in Virginia and North Carolina, if Barack Obama opts to compete strongly there.



Overall in July, Media General saw revenues drop 13.8% to $68.3 million versus a year ago--primarily due to publishing declines, the company said.

A trouble spot, driven by classified ad weakness, is the Tampa Tribune, where an uncertain housing market has plagued the region. Revenues in July were down 30.8% in Florida, where in addition to the Tribune, the company has three community papers. The company also said July brought a weak performance at its NBC station in Tampa.

Classified ad declines also hurt the company's daily Richmond, Va. paper. And retail category spending declined in Tampa and Richmond.

The company's small interactive division saw a 5.7% revenue increase, with the recently acquired a solid performer.

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