Belo Posts 8.8% Revenue Dip

'Soft advertising conditions' hamper broadcaster

Belo Corp. reported a total revenue decrease of 8.8% in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to the fourth quarter of 2007. "Declines in Belo's core local and national spot business were greater than incremental gains from political revenues," the company said in a statement. "Fourth quarter total spot revenue, including political, was down 11% with 26% decreases in both local and national spot."

Belo's total revenues for the full 2008 decreased 5.6%.

"Strong political revenues and double-digit increases in retransmission and Internet revenues were not enough to offset the overall soft advertising conditions Belo experienced during the year," said President/CEO Dunia A. Shive.

Belo announced fourth quarter and full year 2008 pro forma earnings per share from continuing operations of $0.28 and $0.78, respectively, compared to $0.32 and $0.88 for the fourth quarter and full year 2007.

Advertising revenue on the Belo Web sites was up 5.1% in the quarter and 14% for the year, surpassing $30 million for the year. Retransmission consent revenue was up 30% in the quarter and 41% for the full year. That represented $33.1 million for 2008.

Shive said retrans and online will help Belo weather the tough economic climate. "Given the continued weak economic environment, it is extremely difficult to project where advertising revenues will finish for the first quarter," she said. "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."

Belo owns 20 stations nationwide.