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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Media General Holds Annual Meeting of Stockholders

RICHMOND, Va. – Media General, Inc. (NYSE: MEG) shareholders today re-elected eight directors to one-year terms and elected one new director,  Scott D. Anthony.   Mr. Anthony is president of Innosight LLC, a consulting firm specializing in strategies for growth through innovation, and he is well known in the media industry.  In 2005-2006, he spearheaded a major project with the American Press Institute to help the newspaper industry address the challenges of transformation spurred by technology and changing customer preferences.  He helped create the Newspaper Next process for researching and testing viable new business models. 

Directors re-elected were: J. Stewart Bryan III, chairman; O. Reid Ashe, Jr., Diana F. Cantor,  Marshall N. Morton, Thompson L. Rankin, Rodney A. Smolla, Walter E. Williams and Coleman Wortham III.

Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer, reported on the state of the company. “Technology-driven advances have opened the door to more opportunities for us than anyone could have imagined.  As owners of broadcast, print and online properties, we are particularly well positioned to operate in this new world.  Media General’s competitive advantage is that we produce valued local content that no one else does.  People want our content as much as ever before, they just want it packaged their way.  Our strategy, therefore, is to make our content easily accessible on all the platforms people are using and to find new ways to monetize that content,” Mr. Morton said.

“We’ve made a lot of progress pushing into new digital platforms and creating new ways to serve consumers and advertisers.  Unfortunately, many of our successes have been masked by the unprecedented economic downturn in which we’ve been operating,” he said.

He noted the company had taken a number of steps to respond to the economic downturn, including staffing reductions.  Since the beginning of 2007, the company has reduced its workforce by nearly 1,500 or 21 percent.  Today, the company has approximately 5,300 employees.

Mr. Morton outlined a number of the initiatives the company has taken to move into the digital world and transform its businesses to drive growth.  “Media General’s online audience growth continues to be very strong.  Last year, page views increased 11 percent, visitor sessions grew 22 percent, and unique visitors rose 28 percent.  Our average monthly unique visitors are approaching 10 million,” he said.

“The delivery of news and information from our Web sites to mobile devices has come on fast and furiously, especially in the past year. We’re providing text messaging of news, weather and sports as well as mobile delivery of new advertising and marketing services to more and more people.  Our mobile Web sites currently draw about 1 million page views a month from mobile devices,” Mr. Morton said.

He said Media General has optimized its Web sites to serve consumers who have iPhone and iPod Touch devices.  “The social media phenomenon has opened endless opportunities for us to deliver our content on new platforms, to reach new audiences, and to extend our brands.  Some of our television journalists interact live and on air with their audiences using social media, reacting to viewers comments and questions.  People want to be part of the conversation, and this is a great way to satisfy that need and engage our audience.” 

Mr. Morton said, “A transforming development occurring in the world of online advertising right now is the deployment of Yahoo!’s targeted advertising technology on our Web sites.  This capability opens significant opportunity for our markets and advertisers.  Essentially, the Yahoo! technology delivers smart ads to users based on their online behavior.  Our pilot site launched in Charlottesville in March.  We've signed new business in the auto, retail, service and real estate categories as a result. Advertisers are keenly interested in being able to target their message so precisely to consumers who are most likely to buy their product or service.  All of our sites will be using this leading-edge technology by the end of the third quarter.”

Currently, the fastest growing online categories for Media General are Local online revenues and interactive advertising services for.  Local online revenues grew 37 percent in 2008 and the company maintained this momentum in the first quarter of 2009. 

Mr. Morton concluded his remarks by saying, “We have more opportunities to serve more people with more content and to connect advertisers to the consumers they want to reach.  We will continue to pursue those opportunities while, in the short term, continuing to manage our way through the recession.  Recently, there have been some encouraging signs of improvement in various parts of the economy.  We hope to see more signs of improvement, and it’s within our power to produce some of those signs by accelerating the types of initiatives I’ve just described.  I’m proud of how well our employees have embraced change.  I’m excited about our future, and I believe in our prospects for growth and success.  We operate in growth markets, with strong assets and brands.  Media General is in a good position to rebound as the economy improves, and I’m confident we will emerge from the recession as a stronger company.”

The full Annual Meeting presentation is available on

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 leading provider of local news, information and entertainment over multiple media platforms. The company serves markets primarily in the Southeastern United States. Media General publishes 21 daily newspapers, including The Tampa Tribune, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and Winston-Salem Journal; and community newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina; plus more than 250 weekly newspapers and other targeted publications. The company owns and operates 19 network-affiliated television stations that reach approximately 30 percent of the television households in the Southeast and nearly 9 percent of those in the United States. The company’s interactive media operations include Web sites and portals that are associated with each of its newspapers and television stations as well as with many specialty publications, and three growing interactive advertising services companies, Blockdot, Inc., NetInformer and

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Investor Contact:

Lou Anne Nabhan
(804) 649-6103

Media Contact:
Ray Kozakewicz
(804) 649-6748