The culprits include local time sales 25% lower and national time sales that dropped 25%. The bright spot is that it slashed expenses 23%.
Media General reported today that its total broadcast revenue in the second quarter were off 21.4 percent compared the same quarter last year, with gross times sales down 26.3 percent.
Local and national spot declined in virtual lockstep — 24.8 percent and 24.7 percent, respectively.
Advertising revenue was “quite weak in April but strengthened somewhat in May and June,” the company said.
The company blamed lower automotive and telecommunications spending as the main factor in the decreases. Political spending dropped $2 million to $800,000.
Broadcast expenses decreased 19.6 percent, excluding severance, as a result of job cuts, 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 22.9 percent.
The cost savings partially offset the revenue shortfall. Second quarter operating profit was $11.3 million compared with $14.9 million last year.
Overall, including results from newspaper and interactive media segments, Media General posted a 20 percent reduction in revenue, but was able to report net income of $20.6 million compared to a $532.2 million net loss last year.
“A 23-percent decrease in total operating costs year-over-year was a major contributor to the company’s improved operating results,” said Marshall N. Morton, president and CEO in a prepared statement.
“Actions driving the lower expenses included reductions in force across the company, a furlough program, a suspension of matching in the company’s 401(k) plan in 2009, and the final freeze of the company’s pension plan effective May 31, 2009,” he said.
“While we are still dealing with the recession, we are optimistic about our long-term prospects,” he said.
“Even as we have dramatically reduced expenses, we have expanded into new digital and mobile platforms and created new ways to serve consumers and advertisers.
“We are executing effectively on our Internet partnerships with Yahoo! and Zillow and generating new revenue streams in our interactive advertising services businesses such as DealTaker.com.”
The earnings report was well received on Wall Street. As of 3 p.m., the stock was up 106 percent to $2.49.