Media General explores station sale


RICHMOND, Va. -- Media General Inc., a newspaper publisher and television station operator, said Monday it is exploring the sale of five stations in the Southeast.

The decision to consider selling the mid-sized stations come "as a result of our ongoing analysis of our portfolio," said Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer.

"Any sales would enable Media General to use the proceeds to reduce debt and strengthen our balance sheet," Morton said in a news release.

The Richmond-based company is exploring the sale of WCWJ in Jacksonville, Fla.; WTVQ in Lexington, Ky.; WMBB in Panama City, Fla.; KALB in Alexandria, La.; and WNEG in Toccoa, Ga., an independent, satellite station for WPSA in Spartanburg, S.C.

Media General said there is no assurance that any sale will take place, but additional information will be provided should any sale occurs.

Earlier this month, the company announced its third-quarter earnings had plunged 88% as advertising revenue slumped from results boosted by political ad sales a year ago.

The publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Tampa Tribune and Winston-Salem Journal said profit for the quarter ended Sept. 30 fell to $2.5 million, or 11 cents per share, from $20.6 million, or 87 cents per share, a year ago.

Media General said revenue fell 5% to $230.3 million from $241 million last year.

Its broadcast unit's third-quarter profit fell 26% to $16.2 million, primarily because of lower political ad spending in this off-election year.

In addition to its three metropolitan newspapers, the company owns 22 daily community newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, more than 150 weekly newspapers and other publications and 23 network-affiliated television stations.