Media General’s fourth-quarter revenues increase on political advertising

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Media General Inc. reported a 7.2 percent increase in fourth-quarter revenues driven primarily by political television spending.

Total revenues increased to $189.9 million. The Richmond-based media company’s operating income grew 12 percent, to $36.4 million from $32.4 million during the same quarter a year ago. Net income was down $9 million, or 39 cents per share, compared with $27.4 million, or $1.18 per diluted share in the 2009 fourth quarter. The decrease in net income was due primarily to an increase in interest expense related to its new debt financing structure and an increase in income tax.

Media General’s publishing revenues declined 8.4 percent from last year, and classified print revenues decreased 15 percent. Outside sales printing and distribution services increased 7.7 percent in the quarter. Total digital media revenues increased 1.3 percent, reflecting lower revenues at the company’s advertising service businesses, and Blockdot, which mostly offset the double-digit revenue growth at local media websites.

The Virginia/Tennessee market profit in the fourth quarter was $10.9 million, compared with $15.6 million in the 2009 fourth quarter. Revenues declined 4.4 percent from last year and expenses increased 6 percent.

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