Belo 4Q Registers 8.8% Drop, Declining Auto Ads Blamed

arrow downBelo Corp. reported lower revenues, as poor financial results continue for TV station owners.

During the fourth quarter, revenues at the Dallas-based TV group fell almost 9% to $198.8 million, all due to declining local and national advertising business. The losses registered despite gains from political revenues in 2008.

Bottom line: this pushed Belo deeper into the red--at a net loss of $358.7 million from $333.4 million against the same period a year ago.

Fourth-quarter total spot revenue, including political, was down 11%; national spot sank 26%--primarily due to a battered advertising environment from the automotive category, which was down 37% in the fourth quarter and 21% for the full year.

Full-year 2008 spot revenue, including political, was down 7.9%. This breaks down to a 13% decline in local advertising and a 17% drop in national spot advertising.



The better-performing area for Belo was Internet advertising revenue, up 5.1% in the fourth quarter and 14% for the full year 2008. Internet revenues were over $30 million for the year; they now represent over 4% of the company's total revenue.

Retransmission revenues grew 30% in the fourth quarter and 41% for full year 2008. For the full year 2008, retransmission revenues hit $33.1 million and now represent 4.5% of Belo's total revenue.

Dunia Shive, president and CEO of Belo Corp., said in a statement: "Currently, first-quarter local and national-spot pacing trends are similar to our experience in the fourth quarter of 2008... For full year 2009, we expect retransmission and Internet revenues to continue to grow double-digits."

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