Media General reports profits in all markets but Florida

Reuters | Media General
Media General expects to cut about $20 million out of its operating budget this year, the company revealed during its third quarter earnings call today, Reuters reports. The company instituted furlough days last summer to cut expenses, and laid off 29 employees in June.

Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds was on the call and says that Investor Mario Gabelli asked whether the company has spoken with bankruptcy attorneys; CEO Marshall Morton said no. He also said the company would not consider splitting its good and bad assets, as Belo did when it divided its television and print products into different corporations. Morton did hint that the group might entertain the idea of selling some TV stations, since the market for those may be improving. Revenues should improve at their TV stations as well in 2012, a political year and an Olympics year.

A market breakdown provided by Media General shows profits everywhere but Florida, where the “market reported a loss of $1.7 million, compared with a profit of $2.1 million in the third quarter a year ago.”

Edmonds reports:

Vice President for Market Operations John Schauss announced that an internal task force has been convened “to think boldly about newspaper operations” in Tampa. Pressed for detail, Schaus said, “the economic recovery has not really impacted Tampa,” though WFLA is doing well. “On the print side we are looking at how we can improve efficiency and effectiveness.” This working group is midway, but he promised a plan by the next quarterly earnings call. “The burn (through cash) will be greatly improved… People there are doing great things but there has to be a change of focus.”

Poynter owns the St. Petersburg Times, which competes directly with Media General’s Tampa Tribune. || Related: Media General CEO pressed on financies (TVNewsCheck)

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