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Stockholder ire at Media General

Gabelli: Acquisitions dilute earnings, limit company

Money manager Mario Gabelli is seeking to curb acquisitions by Media General, which owns newspapers and television stations in the southeastern U.S., saying the company’s purchases haven’t helped shareholders and requesting unanimous board approval for transactions over $25 million.

“Untimely and costly acquisitions, including the acquisition of Park Communications in 1997, have diluted earnings and seriously limited the company’s financial flexibility,” Gabelli said in a letter. Gabelli and his affiliates hold Class B shares equaling a 27 percent stake in the company, according to a Dec. 9 regulatory filing.

Media General, owner of the Tampa Tribune and Richmond Times- Dispatch newspapers, published Gabelli’s letter in a regulatory filing in which it asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission whether it would be within its rights to exclude Gabelli’s proposal from the company’s proxy ballot. Gabelli was unsuccessful in trying to get the same proposal included on the company’s proxy in 2000.

Media General, based in Richmond, Virginia, owns 25 daily newspapers plus 26 local television stations. Calls to Media General and representatives of Gabelli weren’t immediately returned.

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