Belo Corp. reported a 13.8% decrease in total revenue in the
fourth quarter of 2009, compared to the same quarter a year before. Total spot
revenue, including political advertising, was down 16.4% in the quarter.
National spot was down 2.4% and local spot was up slightly.
Belo's net operating revenues were $171.3 million, down from
$198.9 million in the same quarter a year before.
Belo President/CEO Dunia A. Shive said the decline was
almost entirely due to the lack of political advertising, which bolstered
earnings late in 2008. "The company's spot revenue, excluding political, in the fourth quarter of
2009 was down less than 1% when compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, a
marked improvement from 2009's third quarter decline of 16%," she said. "The
fourth quarter 2009 total revenue decline of 13.8% is almost entirely due to
the decline in political revenue. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the company
generated $35.9 million in political revenue versus $8.8 million in the fourth
quarter of 2009."
14% revenue decrease is on par with other station groups for the fourth
quarter. An improved advertising market was not enough to make up for the lack
of political advertising that stations enjoyed in the fourth quarter of 2008.
ad revenue was down 9% in the fourth quarter for Belo, an improvement over the
36% freefall auto saw in the third quarter.
reported an 18%
revenue decrease in the third quarter of 2009.
full year 2009, total revenues declined 19.5%.
Shive expressed guarded optimism for 2010 earnings. "Total spot revenues in January
were up more than 9% compared to January 2009, with higher percentage growth
expected in February due to the Super Bowl on our five CBS stations and the
Olympics on our four NBC stations," she said. "First quarter spot revenues are
currently pacing up in the low double-digits, with the automotive category
currently pacing up more than 40%. We expect robust political spending in 2010,
most of which will come in the second half of the year."
Belo would remain
cautious about expenses, Shive said, but plans to lift the employee wage freeze
"at some point during the first half of the year."