Media General’s Political Take Tops $41M

Tight political races and a surge in advocate and party spending drive the revenue surge at its 18 stations. The company awards its employees a one-time payment equal to two furlough days, at total of $1.5 million.

Media General announced today that its 18 television stations generated approximately $41.5 million in political advertising revenues through Nov. 2. Four Media General television stations generated about two-thirds of the total: WFLA Tampa, Fla.; WCMH Columbus, Ohio; WSPA Spartanburg, S.C.; and WJAR Providence R.I.

Additionally, a late surge in advocate group and party spending for two hotly contested congressional races in the Virginia 5th and 9th districts generated more revenues than anticipated for WSLS Roanoke, Va., and WJHL Johnson City, Tenn.

“Media General benefited from a surge in issue and national party spending in the final weeks and days leading up to Nov. 2,” said Marshall N. Morton, Media General president-CEO. “Our stations, most of which are rated No. 1 or No. 2 in their respective markets, were in an excellent position to benefit from political advertising this year. We generated nearly $24 million in political revenues in October and the first two days in November.”

Political revenues at WFLA and WCMH were the result of gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, and WCMH also benefited from three hotly contested congressional races. WJAR generated the majority of its revenues from Rhode Island’s gubernatorial race and from a congressional race in Massachusetts. The gubernatorial race in South Carolina and a congressional race in North Carolina accounted for the majority of political revenues generated by WSPA.

Media General stations in Alabama and Georgia delivered significant Political revenues this year from gubernatorial elections in both states, and a congressional race in Georgia.

In addition to the political revenues from its broadcast television stations, Media General’s newspapers generated approximately $450,000 in political revenues and the company’s websites garnered approximately $50,000. “While the dollars are much smaller compared to television advertising, we were pleased to see our other media platforms viewed as a reliable way to convey issue and campaign messages to a target audience,” Morton said.


“Robust broadcast revenues from political advertising, Winter Olympics spending and the underlying firming of our television business, as well as our aggressive expense reductions implemented in 2008, 2009 and this year, have made a significant contribution to our year-over-year performance improvement in 2010.

“As a tribute to the outstanding contributions by our employees during the extremely challenging times of the past few years, we have awarded them a one-time payment. Employees who gave up income during 2009 as a result of Media General’s furlough program received a cash payment on Oct. 25, 2010, which was the equivalent of two furlough days,” Morton said.

The one-time reward, approximately $1.5 million in total, was included in the company’s third-quarter results and reported in its most recent Form 10-Q.

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