July 18, 2012

Media General
Operating income was up 164 percent at Media General in its second quarter, the company announced today. It attributed the rise to political advertising and retransmission fees, which were up 80 percent. On its balance sheet, the company categorizes the Tampa Tribune, its only remaining newspaper property since it sold most of its newspapers to Berkshire Hathaway in May, as “discontinued operations,” a category that also includes Dealtaker.com and a broadcast equipment business. (The Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times competes with the Tribune.) “Media General is in discussions with prospective buyers for The Tampa Tribune and its associated print and web operations and believes a sale is probable,” the company says in a release.

The company, which reported a net loss of $146.3 million for the quarter, restructured its once-perilous debt as part of the Berkshire Hathaway sale. In the release, it says it used “net proceeds from the newspaper sale of approximately $112 million to further reduce debt.” It also plans to reduce corporate expenses by 35-40 percent. In April the company said its executives took pay cuts in 2011. “For the full year 2012, the company expects that cash provided by operations will be used to make interest payments of $65 million, capital expenditures of $15 million and retirement plan contributions of $13 million,” the release says.

On Tuesday, Lee Enterprises, which publishes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and dozens of other papers, posted its third-quarter results (PDF), including a $1.5 million loss. It lost $155 million in the same period the year before. Lee CEO Mary Junck said the company will introduce digital subscriptions in “nearly all of Lee’s 52 markets” by the end of 2012.

Gannett announced its second quarter earnings on Monday, with print advertising revenue down as digital revenue rose.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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