Media General’s Income Is Up, But Still Losing Money

The owner of the Richmond Times-Dispatch would have swung to a profit of $8.7 million in the first quarter of 2010, but Media General Inc (MEG) was hurt by high interest payments on debt, bringing the company’s net loss to $16.7 million, or 75 cents a share.

This makes Media General the first newspaper company to not report positive results this earnings season. Gannett, Lee Enterprises, and Journal Communications all reported profits.

Revenues of $158.9 million were “essentially even with last year,” the company said, while costs decreased 12 percent.

On the digital side, digital revenue grew by nearly 10 percent.

Yet thanks to MG’s interest payments nearly doubling, from $10 million to $19.8 million, the company still recorded a loss.

Media General’s furloughs have ended, so payroll costs are expected to increase next quarter, but the company also announced recently that it’s consolidated another three papers’ copy desks and that the rest of its properties will follow by the end of the year, a move that will save the company $1 million annually starting in 2011.