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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Media General Holds Annual Meeting of Stockholders

RICHMOND, Va. – Media General, Inc. (NYSE: MEG) shareholders today re-elected 10 directors to one-year terms and elected one new director,  Carl S. Thigpen.  Mr. Thigpen is executive vice president and chief investment officer of Protective Life Corporation in Birmingham, Ala., a publicly traded, diversified life insurance and financial services company.  Birmingham is an important market for Media General and is the home of its television station WVTM.

Media General directors re-elected to the Board are: J. Stewart Bryan III, chairman; Scott D. Anthony, O. Reid Ashe, Jr., Diana F. Cantor, Dennis J. FitzSimons, 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.  He recapped the challenges to the company and the industry of the past three years.  “We acted quickly to bring expenses in line with the diminishing revenue opportunities in our marketplaces during the economic downturn.  Reducing employment and other cash-saving moves enabled us to lower our operating expenses by a total of nearly 25 percent in the course of the two years 2008 and 2009,” said Mr. Morton.

Mr. Morton reported that Media General entered 2010 with strong momentum and is well positioned to benefit from the recovering economy.  “A major contributor to our position of strength is the new financing structure that we put in place in February of this year.  It greatly enhances our financial flexibility for the coming years. While the new finance structure increases interest expense in the near term, we’re pleased with its overall parameters. Our lower operating cost structure and increased financial flexibility together place us in a strong position to capitalize on an improving economy, while continuing to focus on the development of new products and new revenue streams,” Mr. Morton said.

“Our greatest strength is that we’ve got the right content for our marketplaces.  Our focus is on making our content available on all the platforms our customers prefer to use, while, at the same time, finding ways to monetize that content,” he said.

Mr. Morton noted the company has also focused on greater operating efficiencies in a number of processes.  “An effective solution for our company has been to centralize a number of key operating processes.  Recently, the company announced plans to consolidate copy editing and page design for its three metro newspapers.  The new operation will be the third of its type and Media General expects to have all of its newspapers in a consolidated operation by the end of the year.

Mr. Morton outlined a number of the initiatives the company has undertaken in digital media.  These include a Web-first approach to news reporting, Internet partnerships and increasing the content and advertising provided on mobile devices.  The company’s news operations are also actively engaged in all types of social media.

Mr. Morton said he expects the company’s digital revenues to exceed $50 million in 2010, up 21 percent from last year.  “The most significant contributor to our success in driving new revenues is the transformation we have inculcated in our sales culture. Today, all of our sellers are required to be proficient at selling all of our products and services to all of our customers, with a specific emphasis on digital products,” Mr. Morton said.

Partnerships with Yahoo! and the leading real estate site, Zillow, are helping to drive Media General’s digital media revenue growth.  “Initially our Yahoo! partnership benefited only our newspapers.  As a result of our success selling Yahoo! products, we’ve been given the exclusive opportunity to pilot the program in selected television markets this year.  Based on the early returns, we expect to expand our Yahoo! partnership to virtually all our television markets later this year.”

The company is implementing a new strategy called Classified Next.  “This initiative is designed to recapture our market share in classifieds.  We are changing our focus from particular platforms to categories of business.  Our focus on category growth is driven by the expectation that in the coming years, spending will increase in the employment and real estate categories.  In addition, spending for all classified categories, including automotive, will be higher on digital platforms than it will be for traditional media,” he said.

“We are confident that newspapers have a strong future because many people want the breadth and depth of information that newspapers provide.  We also recognize that newspapers increasingly will be viewed on their digital platforms.”  All Media General newspapers have associated Web sites and nine Media General newspapers offer electronic editions.  Two newspapers are available on Amazon’s Kindle.

Media General is actively engaged in mobile television, and along with 11 other broadcast companies recently announced a joint venture for a national mobile television service.  Media General will offer this service first in Tampa, Fla., Columbus, Ohio, Raleigh, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala.

Mr. Morton concluded his remarks by saying, “Our market focus, the transformation of our sales approach, and our emphasis on new products and services are yielding successes on all fronts for Media General.  These strategies are laying the groundwork for us to better control our destiny and realize the full potential of the digital age.  Our lower cost base increases our flexibility to do new things.  In the digital world, new things often don’t cost a lot on an incremental basis.  With all the opportunities available for growth via digital and electronic means, we don’t expect to make significant acquisitions in order to realize meaningful growth over the long term.

“Our customer- and market-focused company is ahead of the game in transforming itself in a rapidly changing industry.  We believe our financial results will improve over time, based on the clear and consistent initiatives we’re executing and on the fundamental strengths of our assets and our region.  Media General is well-positioned to capitalize on an improving economy and build shareholder value over the long-term,” Mr. Morton said.

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 news, information and entertainment across multiple media platforms, serving consumers and advertisers in strong local markets, primarily in the Southeastern United States.  Media General’s operations are organized in five geographic market segments and a sixth segment that includes the company’s interactive advertising services and certain other operations.  The company’s operations include 18 network-affiliated television stations and their associated Web sites, three metropolitan and 20 community newspapers and their associated Web sites, more than 200 specialty publications that include weekly newspapers and niche publications targeted to various demographic, geographic and topical communities of interest.  Many of the company’s specialty publications have associated Web sites.  Media General additionally operates three interactive advertising services companies:  Blockdot, which specializes in interactive entertainment and advergaming technologies;, a coupon and shopping Web site; and NetInformer, a leading provider of wireless media and mobile marketing services.

View Presentation

Investor Contact:

Lou Anne Nabhan
(804) 649-6103

Media Contact:
Ray Kozakewicz
(804) 649-6748