News Releases


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Media General Reports Fourth-Quarter and 2005 Full-Year Results

RICHMOND, Va. – Media General, Inc. (NYSE: MEG) today reported net income for the fourth quarter of 2005 of $25 million, or $1.05 per diluted share, compared with $36.8 million, or $1.55 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2004.

The change in net income primarily reflected the absence in the 2005 period of more than $20 million in record Political advertising revenues, generated during the final weeks of heavy campaigning leading up to the November 2004 general election, and a $6.1 million gain from a newsprint swap settlement recorded in the 2004 fourth quarter.

“Underscoring the success of our new revenue development initiatives, designed in large measure to compensate for the virtual loss of Political advertising in 2005, an off-election year, Media General’s total revenues were down only 1.7 percent in the current quarter,” said Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer.

“Our Broadcast Division generated an 18.9 percent increase in Local time sales and a 12.8 percent increase in National time sales for the quarter, and the division also benefited from strong advertiser spending in the month of December. The Publishing Division generated a 3.5 percent increase in advertising revenues in the fourth quarter, and our Interactive Media Division’s revenues increased 47.3 percent over the prior-year quarter,” Morton said.

“We were especially pleased that all three of our operating divisions continued their industry-leading advertising revenue growth. We believe this performance reflects the quality of our core products, the success of new products and services, and the strength of our markets,” Morton said.

Also impacting the company’s profit performance in the fourth quarter were a loss from its investment in SP Newsprint due to higher energy costs, higher expenses for employee benefits, and increased newsprint expense in the Publishing Division. Improved operating results in the Interactive Media Division and lower interest and corporate expenses partially offset these effects.

In the Publishing Division, the 3.5 percent increase in advertising revenues, led by strong Classified and solid Retail advertising growth, was partially offset by lower Circulation revenues, due almost entirely to a change in carrier wholesale rates. More than offsetting, however, was a 4.4 percent increase in expenses, which resulted in a 4.7 percent decline in Publishing profit in the quarter.

Including online revenues from newspaper Web sites, total Publishing revenues increased 2.9 percent and newspaper advertising revenues rose 4.3 percent.

Classified revenues increased $3.1 million, or 6.4 percent, with strength in employment advertising in nearly all markets. The timing of Christmas on a Sunday in 2005 dampened overall growth. Including online advertising, total Classified advertising rose 8.3 percent from last year, despite continued softness in automotive Classifieds.

At The Tampa Tribune, Classified revenues increased by 11.8 percent, led by real estate and help- wanted advertising, up 41 percent, and 28 percent, respectively, while automotive advertising declined 13 percent. At the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Classified revenues increased 4.3 percent. A 31.9 percent increase in real estate advertising and a 3.8 percent increase in help-wanted revenues more than offset a 25.1 percent decline in automotive advertising revenues. At the Winston-Salem Journal, Classified revenues rose 3.1 percent. Increases in real estate and help-wanted, each up 13 percent, partially offset an 8.9 percent decline in automotive. Media General’s Community Newspapers reported a slight increase, primarily due to gains in help-wanted advertising.

At the three metro newspapers, help-wanted linage was up 6.4 percent in the aggregate. The Tampa Tribune increased 6.3 percent, the Richmond Times-Dispatch was up 5.7 percent and the Winston-Salem Journal was up 8.5 percent. Automotive linage was down 16.4 percent for the three metros, offset by a 36.9 percent increase for real estate.

Retail revenues increased $1.8 million, or 2.9 percent, in the fourth quarter. The improvement came primarily from The Tampa Tribune, which was up 6.1 percent, and reflected increases in the financial, department store and medical categories. At the Winston-Salem Journal, Retail revenues increased 1.3 percent, due to higher department store and jewelry store advertising, and increased preprints. At the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Retail revenues declined 3.4 percent, due primarily to reductions in the department store, furniture and grocery store categories. The company’s Community Newspapers reported a 1.6 percent increase in Retail advertising, primarily due to increases in Northern Virginia, Charlottesville and North Carolina.

National advertising revenue decreased $880,000, or 6.6 percent, for the quarter. The Richmond Times-Dispatch was up 4.5 percent, mainly due to higher telecommunications and computer advertising as well as increased preprints, and the Community Newspapers experienced a 3.7 percent increase, principally the result of preprints. Conversely, National advertising decreased 9.9 percent at The Tampa Tribune, due to lower spending in the travel, pharmaceutical and telecommunications categories. The Winston-Salem Journal was down 15.6 percent, due to declines in automotive, partially offset by an increase in telecommunications.

Due primarily to a change in wholesale rates to independent carriers in some markets, for which there was a corresponding expense decrease, Circulation revenues declined $1.2 million, or 5.6 percent during the quarter.

In the Broadcast Division, significantly increased Local and National time sales could not fully offset the virtual absence of Political revenues, and total time sales declined 8.4 percent. Lower network compensation and decreased sales from the division’s equipment subsidiary also contributed to the division’s overall revenue decline of 9.6 percent. Combined with a slight increase in expenses, Broadcast profit of $24.3 million decreased 27.6 percent from the 2004 fourth quarter.

Local time sales increased $9.1 million, or 18.9 percent, as a result of new business development initiatives. Local categories showing increases, included furniture, health care, automotive and telecommunications.

National time sales rose $3.2 million, or 12.8 percent, due to higher spending in the telecommunications, automotive, services, department stores and entertainment categories.

Fourth quarter political revenues of $438,000 in 2005 were generated primarily from the gubernatorial race in Virginia.

Broadcast expenses for the quarter increased 0.3 percent from the same 2004 period. Lower cost of goods sold for the division’s production equipment subsidiary nearly offset higher employee salaries and employee benefits expense.

Interactive Media Division revenues were up 47.3 percent over 2004 to a quarterly record of $5.8 million. The growth reflected continued strong Classified advertising, up 44.3 percent, and higher Local advertising revenues, which rose 26.8 percent, as well as revenues from Blockdot, acquired in July 2005. The division’s quarterly loss of $1.4 million represented a 17.6 percent improvement from 2004.

Interest expense decreased 5.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2004, due to lower average debt levels. Corporate expense decreased 5.8 percent from last year, due to several factors, including lower legal expenses.

The company recorded a loss of $908,000 from its investment in SP Newsprint in the quarter, compared to income of $1 million in the 2004 quarter, mostly due to increased energy costs that were only partially offset by higher newsprint selling prices.

EBITDA (income before accounting change, interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in the fourth quarter of 2005 was $63.4 million, compared with $83.1 million in the 2004 period, mostly reflecting lower net income. Free cash flow for the quarter (after-tax cash flow minus capital expenditures) was $15.6 million, compared with $45.3 million in the prior-year period and reflected significantly increased capital expenditures in 2005.

Media General provides the non-GAAP financial metrics EBITDA, After-Tax Cash Flow, and Free Cash Flow. The company believes these metrics are useful in evaluating financial performance and are common alternative measures used by investors, financial analysts and rating agencies. These groups use EBITDA, along with other measures, to evaluate a company’s ability to service its debt requirements and to estimate the value of the company. A reconciliation of these metrics to amounts on the GAAP statements has been included in this news release.

The Publishing Division expects some improvement in its revenue growth over the fourth quarter of 2005. Employment and real estate Classifieds are expected to offset shortfalls in automotive Classified. New revenue initiatives should drive continued Retail growth.

The Broadcast Division will benefit from Super Bowl advertising on its three ABC network affiliates, the Winter Olympics on its five NBC affiliates, the NCAA basketball tournament in March on its 16 CBS affiliates, and continued growth from new business development initiatives. Local and National time sales are projected to grow by 7-8 percent over the 2005 first quarter with minimal Political spending anticipated. Revenue gains will be offset to some degree by increased sales expense.

The company plans to release first-quarter earnings on April 12, 2006. Media General will hold its Annual Meeting of Stockholders on April 27, 2006, at 11 a.m. at the Richmond Newspapers Production Facility, 8460 Times-Dispatch Boulevard, Mechanicsville, Va.

Conference Call and Webcast
The company will hold an earnings conference call today with financial analysts at 2 p.m. ET. The conference call will be available to the media and general public through a limited number of listen-only dial-in conference lines and via simultaneous Webcast. To dial in to the call, listeners may call 1-866-314-5232 about 10 minutes prior to the 2 p.m. start. Listeners may also access the live Webcast by logging on to and clicking on the “Live Earnings Conference” link on the homepage about 10 minutes in advance.

A replay of the Webcast will be available online at beginning at 4 p.m. today . A telephone replay is also available today, beginning at 4 p.m. and ending on February 2 at 12 a.m., by dialing 1-888-286-8010 or 617-801-6888, and using the passcode 76507675.

Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to various risks and uncertainties and should be understood in the context of the company’s publicly available reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Media General’s future performance could differ materially from its current expectations.

About Media General
Media General is a diversified communications company operating leading newspapers, television stations and online enterprises, primarily in the Southeastern United States. The company’s publishing assets include three metropolitan newspapers, The Tampa Tribune, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and Winston-Salem Journal; 22 daily community newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina; and more than 100 weekly newspapers and other publications. The company’s broadcasting assets include 26 network-affiliated television stations that reach more than 30 percent of the television households in the Southeast and nearly 8 percent of those in the United States. The company’s interactive media assets include more than 50 online enterprises that are associated with its newspapers and television stations. Media General also owns a 33 percent interest in SP Newsprint Company, a manufacturer of recycled newsprint.

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Investor Contact:
Lou Anne Nabhan
(804) 649-6103

Media Contact:
Ray Kozakewicz
(804) 649-6748