MEBANE,Madison River Communications reported a steep decline in losses for 2002, but the telecommunications firm still lost $39.4 million in 2002.

Losses were 47 percent lower than in 2001 ($79.4 million).

“We made progress this year in a very challenging environment,” said J. Stephen Vanderwoude, Madison River’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Although 2003 looks every bit as challenging, we are determined to focus on service and efficiencies to continue to improve.”

Madison River operates local telephone and integrated communications divisions.

Adjusted earnings for the year were $87.5 million, an increase of 40 percent over 2002.

Revenues in the fourth quarter were $46.6 million, down $200,000 from the fourth quarter in 2001 and $200,000 less than in the third quarter of 2002. The net loss for the fourth quarter was $7.3 million.

The local division reported a drop of 4,560 access lines to 190,250 as compared to 2001 figures.