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Media General, owner of the Tampa Tribune and WFLA-Ch. 8, asks staff to take 10 days unpaid leave this year

18

February

Mediageneralvig Media General, the company that owns the Tampa Tribune and WFLA-Ch. 8, has announced plans for  employees to take 10 unpaid days off work by the end of September, as part of an effort to reduce debt by $28 million in a punishing economy.

According to a press release from the company, staffers are expected to take four days off by the end of March, three more days by the end of June and three additional days by September's end. The move mirrors similar actions taken by newspaper and media companies across the country, such as Gannett, MediaNews and New England Newspapers, to reduce costs yet avoid layoffs.

The news also comes as Media General has fought rumors that its Tampa operations might be significantly changed or downsized after the Super Bowl. TV industry Web sites have buzzed with rumors that WFLA has asked some contract employees to accept new agreements and that the station has canceled the 10 p.m. newscast it broadcasts on MyNetworkTV affiliate WTTA-Ch. 38.

“The current economic outlook requires us to be even more cautious than we already have been regarding our revenue expectations,” said Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer, in the press release.  “Despite aggressive sales initiatives and significant cost reductions already implemented, we need to build in additional expense savings to offset the revenue shortfalls we anticipate.

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Click below to read the press release:

Media General, Inc. (NYSE: MEG) announced today that it is implementing an employee furlough program in the face of an economy that continues to contract, causing the advertising market to further weaken. 

Employees will take a mandatory 10 days off according to a schedule that requires four days by the end of March and three days each in the Company’s next two fiscal quarters, ending in June and September, respectively. Unionized and other employees under contract are being asked to participate in lieu of layoffs. 

“The current economic outlook requires us to be even more cautious than we already have been regarding our revenue expectations,” said Marshall N. Morton, president and chief executive officer.  “Despite aggressive sales initiatives and significant cost reductions already implemented, we need to build in additional expense savings to offset the revenue shortfalls we anticipate. 

“With this furlough, along with other cost reduction measures already implemented, we are being prudent and proactive as we address the impact of unprecedented economic turmoil in our country and our industry,” said Mr. Morton.

In January, Media General announced that it is suspending the company’s matching contribution on its 401(k) plan effective April 1, 2009, through the end of the year, and the Board of Directors suspended the dividend on its common stock.  These actions, together with the furlough, will provide an additional $28 million in 2009 for debt reduction.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:55pm]

    

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