Newspaper publisher and broadcaster Media General ( MEG) projected first-quarter earnings below Wall Street's estimate Wednesday evening.

It forecasts earnings of 27 cents to 30 cents a share for the first quarter, including 4 cents a share of stock-options expense. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting the company to earn 47 cents a share.

The company expects lower than expected revenue growth of 3% to 3.5% in the publishing division for the first quarter. Broadcast time revenue for the quarter is expected to rise by 7% to 8%, in line with previous forecast, it said. Newsprint and employee benefits expenses are expected to continue to rise in 2006.

The company said its February revenue rose 4.2% from a year-ago period to $71.9 million, led by 9.8% rise in broadcast division revenue and 36% jump in revenue from interactive media division.

"Our Olympics revenues this year were 15.3% higher than the amount we realized during the 2002 Winter Olympics," the company said. "We attribute this increase to aggressive sales efforts by our stations to market Olympics advertising packages across several dayparts."

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