- The Washington Times - Friday, April 17, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Newspaper publisher and TV station owner Media General reported a wider first-quarter loss Friday on a deepening slide in advertising revenue.

The Richmond, Va., company also said it cut its work force by nearly 300 jobs in the week of March 31 and plans to freeze its pension plan at the end of May.

Its shares fell 30 cents, or 10.1 percent, to close at $2.67 Friday.

The publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Tampa Tribune lost $21.3 million, or 96 cents per share, in January-March period, compared to a loss of $20.3 million, or 92 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company said its loss in the most recent quarter included severance costs of $4.5 million, or 20 cents per share.

Revenue fell 18 percent to $159 million from $194.5 million a year ago.

Classified advertising in Media General’s publishing unit was the worst hit, plunging 39 percent. Its broadcast properties saw a decline of 19 percent.

Helping to offset the slump somewhat was a better performance from the company’s interactive media unit, which narrowed its operating loss to $1.1 million from $2.7 million a year ago and grew sales by 25 percent.

A 14 percent cut in operating expenses also helped results; Media General recently suspended its 401(k) match, imposed 10-day unpaid furloughs across the company beginning in the first quarter and suspended dividend payments.

The company operatess more than 20 daily newspapers and 19 television stations.

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