Belo: Political Revs Rocket, Spot Up 18%


Belo Corp made double-digit percentage advertising gains in the fourth quarter of 2010 -- but big political commercial placements crowded out non-political commercials during the period. The Dallas-based TV station group witnessed total spot revenue 22% higher than the fourth quarter of 2009 -- all thanks to a $26.9 million increase in political revenue. But core non-political advertisers had a tougher time gaining placement for their commercials, which led to only a 1.2% improvement in local spot revenue and 7.1% gain for national spot revenue.

Other TV station revenue -- barter and trade advertising, network compensation, Internet advertising revenue and retrans revenue -- was up 13% in the fourth quarter. This was primarily due to gains in retransmission revenue and Internet advertising revenue.

Overall, Belo improved total revenue by 20% in the period to $206.2 million. Net income was a big 80% higher to $39.9 million versus $22.3 million.



Full-year 2010 spot revenue was up 18%. This breaks down to a 6.1% increase in local spot, and 16% more in national spot. Political revs saw a $42.3 million increase compared to 2009.

The near-term outlook for advertising will be more modest at Belo in the first and second quarter -- perhaps only rising by low single-digit percentages versus the previous comparable period.

Belo had big gains in the first quarter of 2010 -- $8.4 million in Olympics revenue, $6.3 million in political revenue and $2.3 million in Super Bowl revenue from its five CBS affiliates. This compares to only advertising dollars from this year's Super Bowl on Belo's only Fox affiliate.

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