Both local and national sales fall by 20%, due to the drop-off in automotive industry ad spending.
Media General Inc. first quarter of 2009 financial results that included a decline in total broadcast revenues of $14.3 million, or 19.1 percent, and a drop in gross time sales of $19.2 million, or 24.9 percent.
Local time sales decreased $9.6 million, or 20.4 percent, and national time sales decreased $5.4 million, or 20.9 percent.
The company said that lower automotive spending was the main factor for the decreases in both categories.
Excluding severance expense, broadcast division profit for the quarter decreased by $4.4 million, or 57.3 percent, from last year’s first quarter, which included $4.4 million of political revenues.
Broadcast expenses decreased 14.5 percent, excluding severance, due to reduced salary expense from workforce reductions and furloughs, other cost containment initiatives, and lower costs of goods sold at a broadcast equipment subsidiary. Salary expense, excluding severance but including furlough savings, declined 16.1 percent. Benefits expense decreased 28 percent.
Media General said that overall, it had a net loss for the first quarter of 2009 of $21.3 million, or 96 cents per share, including severance expense of $4.5 million, or 20 cents per share. This compares to a net loss in 2008 of $20.3 million, or 92 cents per share, which included a loss of $10.4 million, or 47 cents per share, from discontinued operations.
Partially offsetting an 18 percent revenue decrease in the quarter was a 14 percent reduction in total operating costs.
“Media General has responded swiftly to the revenue declines we have experienced over the past three years,” said Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer, “and we have dramatically reshaped and reduced our cost structure. The net result of the cost saving actions implemented during 2008 and this year are expected to reduce our total operating costs for 2009 by 15 percent from the 2008 level, excluding severance and special charges.
“Our focus on new products and services, targeted online sales campaigns, new revenues from our Internet partnerships with Yahoo! and Zillow, and our interactive advertising services businesses such as DealTaker.com are enabling us to transform our business model in the world of digital and mobile communications,” Morton added.