Belo’s Newspaper Ad Rev Falls in Q4

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By: E&P Staff

Belo said today that consolidated revenue grew 6% to $437 million in Q4 compared to the same period a year ago due to increases at its television division and expense management. For 2006, consolidated revenue rose 4.1% to $1.59 billion.

“In 2006, the television group achieved its highest spot revenues ever — both including and excluding political revenues — with an increase in total spot revenue or nearly 10% versus 2005,” Robert Decherd, Belo’s chairman, president, and CEO, said in a statement.
“Despite the challenging advertising environment faced by newspapers across the country through most of 2006, Belo’s newspaper group revenues declined less than 1% for the full year.”

In Q4, newspaper total revenue dropped 3.2% on a 3.6% decline in advertising revenue. Adjusting for an additional Sunday in 2006, total revenue fell 4.8% and advertising revenue was down 5.4%.

On the same basis, advertising revenue decreased 5.3% at The Dallas Morning News, 6% at The Providence (R.I,) Journal, and 5.4% at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif.

Advertising revenue at the newspapers’ Web sites soared 41%.

During Q4, Newspaper segment costs and expenses fell 6.9%. Newsprint expense dropped 18% on a 25% decline in consumption.

For the full year, newspaper total revenue slipped 0.6% on a 1.9% decrease in advertising revenue. Online revenue advanced 46%.

For the full year, retail advertising at the newspaper division fell 6.6%, general was down 7.0%, and classified declined 1.8%. Within the classified category, auto plummeted 16%, employment was down 1.6%, and real estate grew 5.4%.

Looking forward, Dunia Shive, Belo’s president/media operations, said in a statement: “Like all newspapers, Belo’s newspaper group will face continuing challenges in Q1. We expect our newspaper group revenue to be lower in the Q1 2007 than in the Q1 2006, which was our newspapers’ best quarter last year.”

Additionally, Belo is weighing the “value of providing monthly reports from a shareholder’s perspective” over the next few weeks. “A single month’s performance is not necessarily a reliable indicator of quarterly advertising patterns,” Decherd said.

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