Ill Winds: Belo Drops 6.4% In 3Q

Higher Olympic and political advertising revenues were not enough to offset Belo Corp.'s overall downturn in advertising revenues.

The station group's third-quarter revenues dropped 6.4% to $170.8 million, with net earnings off 23% to $14.4 million. Belo--which owns 20 TV stations that reach 14% of the U.S. TV households--was also affected by hurricanes, which lowered its advertising take.

Overall spot advertising revenue was down 8.8% to $146.2 million, with automotive advertising spending on the group's stations down 26% versus the same time period a year ago.

Olympic revenue landed at $9.7 million, while political revenue was at $11.7 million--39% higher than the third-quarter 2007.

Breaking down Belo's total ad revenue, local spot was down 13% and national spot advertising was off 18% versus the third quarter of 2007. Helping to offset its TV station ad losses, Belo says its online TV-related business climbed 18% to $7.9 million. The company now says that Web advertising represents 4.6% of Belo's total revenues.

Retransmission fees from cable operators--which are now at $8.4 million, up 41%--are improving revenues. For the full-year 2008, Belo says they will generate $31 million.

In mid-day trading, Belo's stock was up nearly 5% to $2.23.



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