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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Media General Reports Fourth-Quarter 2006 Results

RICHMOND, Va. – Media General, Inc. (NYSE: MEG) today reported net income for the fourth quarter of 2006 of $31.6 million, or $1.33 per diluted share, up 26.7 percent, from net income in the 2005 fourth quarter of $25 million, or $1.05 per diluted share. Income from continuing operations was $32.1 million, or $1.35 per diluted share, compared with $23.9 million, or $1.00 per diluted share, in the 2005 quarter.

The 2006 results included the benefit of four new NBC television stations, acquired June 26, 2006, and 14 weeks in the 2006 quarter compared with 13 weeks in the fourth quarter of 2005. Although it is difficult to precisely quantify the impact of the additional week, the company has estimated the impact on key metrics throughout this release in order to allow meaningful comparisons.

“Media General’s strong profit improvement in the fourth quarter was mostly due to the outstanding performance of our Broadcast Division, bolstered by the four new NBC stations, and record Political revenues of $34.3 million,” said Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer. “Additionally, equity income from our investment in SP Newsprint was $3.2 million higher in the 2006 fourth quarter. These favorable contributions to our fourth-quarter results more than offset lower Publishing Division profit and acquisition-related interest and intangible amortization expenses,” he said.

Total company revenues in the fourth quarter of 2006 of $294.7 million, increased 26 percent, including the new NBC stations. Excluding the new stations, total revenues increased 10.7 percent. The additional week in the 2006 quarter contributed an estimated $18.5 million in total revenues, including the new NBC stations.

Publishing Division profit for the quarter decreased 10.4 percent. Total divisional revenues increased 3.4 percent and newspaper advertising revenues were up 3.8 percent from last year’s fourth quarter. Excluding the additional week in 2006, Publishing revenues declined 3.4 percent and advertising revenues declined 3 percent.

Retail revenues increased $4.9 million, or 7.5 percent, reflecting the additional week, as well as new revenue development initiatives and higher spending in selected categories across many markets. The Tampa Tribune and its associated daily newspapers generated an 8.2 percent increase in Retail revenues, including higher spending in the home improvement, home furnishings, and grocery store categories. At the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Winston-Salem Journal, Retail revenues rose 6.8 percent with increases in several different categories. Retail revenues for the Community Newspaper group rose 7.3 percent.

Despite the impact of the extra week, Classified advertising revenues in the fourth quarter were slightly below last year. The Richmond Times-Dispatch generated a 12.2 percent increase in Classified revenues, while The Tampa Tribune and Winston-Salem Journal reported decreases of 10 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. The Community Newspapers group generated a 3.8 percent increase in Classified revenues.

Help-wanted linage for the company’s three metro newspapers declined 13.7 percent. Employment linage at The Tampa Tribune and Richmond Times-Dispatch decreased 29 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively, while the Winston-Salem Journal generated a 5 percent increase.

Automotive linage was down 10.1 percent for the three metros. 

Real estate Classified linage at the three metros decreased 3.7 percent. The Richmond Times-Dispatch and Winston-Salem Journal generated increases of 12.9 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, while the Tampa Tribune experienced a 17.2 percent decrease from the prior-year.

National advertising revenues for the quarter increased 1.5 percent. The Richmond Times-Dispatch generated an increase of 1.5 percent, mainly the result of higher spending in the insurance category. National advertising was even with the fourth quarter of 2005 at The Tampa Tribune and included advances in telecommunications and financial advertising partially offset by lower automotive advertising. The Winston-Salem Journal was down 4.5 percent, primarily reflecting lower automotive advertising.

Circulation revenues for the fourth quarter were up nominally, including the additional week. Seven Media General newspapers posted increases in net-paid Daily Circulation, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and eight did so for Sunday, including the Winston-Salem Journal.

Publishing Division expenses increased 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter. Excluding the additional week, expenses were up only 1.1 percent, and newsprint expense decreased 3 percent. Higher newsprint prices were more than offset by lower consumption. The average price per ton increased $49 from the 2005 quarter.

Broadcast Division profit for the quarter more than doubled to $46.1 million, including the new stations.  Excluding the new stations, segment profit increased nearly 50 percent.

Total Broadcast revenues grew 74.1 percent, to $128 million, including the new stations. Excluding the  new stations, total revenues increased 25.4 percent. Excluding the new stations and additional week in 2006, total revenues were up 17.4 percent.

Total Political revenues of $34.3 million compared with $375,000 in the 2005 quarter, and were generated from hotly contested gubernatorial races in Rhode Island, Florida and Ohio, and by U.S. Senate campaigns in Rhode Island, Ohio, Florida and Tennessee. This spending was augmented by  issues advertising in Rhode Island, Florida and Ohio. Political revenues included $15.2 million from the four new NBC stations.

Gross time sales increased $62.6 million, or 85.1 percent, including the new stations, and gross time sales increased 27.5 percent, excluding the new stations.

Local time sales grew $14.9 million, or 30.2 percent, including the new stations. Excluding these stations, Local time sales decreased less than one percent. Higher spending in the telecommunications and services categories was offset by lower automotive advertising.

National time sales increased $13.8 million, or 57.6 percent. Excluding the new stations, National time sales rose 7 percent. Categories showing increases for the quarter included telecommunications and automotive, while fast food and entertainment declined.

Broadcast expenses for the quarter increased 15.6 percent, excluding the new stations. Excluding the additional week, Broadcast expenses increased 7.3 percent in the quarter, one-half of which was due to higher cost of goods sold at the company’s equipment subsidiary.

Interactive Media Division revenues of $7.1 million increased 24 percent over the 2005 quarter, including Web sites associated with the new NBC stations. Page views and visitor sessions for the fourth quarter rose 21 percent and 25 percent, respectively, including the new NBC station Web sites. Local online revenues increased 47.6 percent as the result of continued growth in banners and sponsorships. National/Regional revenues more than doubled, due to a greater focus on Regional advertising. Classified advertising was essentially even with the 2005 quarter, mostly reflecting lower help-wanted advertising. The division’s quarterly loss of $1.8 million included a $700,000 write-down of an investment the division has in a company that produces interactive entertainment. Excluding the write-down, the division’s results improved by 20 percent over the 2005 period. 

EBITDA (income from continuing operations before accounting change, interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in the fourth quarter of 2006 was $84.8 million, compared with $60.1 million in the 2005 period. After-Tax Cash Flow was $50.3 million compared to $38.7 million in the prior year. Free Cash Flow for the quarter (After-Tax Cash Flow minus capital expenditures) was $26 million, compared with $13 million in the prior-year period. These increases primarily reflect the presence of the new NBC stations and Political revenues in the Broadcast Division.  

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.

In the first quarter of 2007, the Publishing Division expects revenues to be even with the prior year, or slightly increased, reflecting continued solid Retail advertising revenue growth and softer Classified and National advertising. The Broadcast Division expects same-store time sales to be even or slightly ahead of last year, with Local time sales offsetting a decline in National time sales and the absence of Political revenues. The Interactive Media Division expects revenue growth of approximately 40 percent.

Conference Call and Webcast
The company will hold an earnings conference call with financial analysts today 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 1-800-884-5695 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, beginning at 4 p.m. and ending at 4 p.m. February 7, by dialing 1-888-286-8010 or 617-801-6888, and using the passcode 83499100.

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 multimedia 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 150 weekly newspapers and other publications. The company’s broadcasting assets include 23 network-affiliated television stations that reach more than 32 percent of the television households in the Southeast and nearly 9.5 percent of those in the United States. The company’s interactive media assets include more than 75 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