Belo the Norm: Joins Ranks of Those Reporting Steep Newspaper Declines

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The chief executive of Dallas-based A.H. Belo Corporation says first-quarter financial results at the newspaper chain will fall short of expectations.

Robert Decherd said in a letter to shareholders dated today that the company is “looking at every sensible expense reduction.”

Decherd says revenue has fallen sharply at the chain’s Riverside Press-Enterprise in Southern California, and advertising revenue at The Dallas Morning News are below 2007 levels.

Decherd said the company’s first-quarter results to be released April 28th “will be substantially below our expectations” when the company made its 2008 plan and when it met with investors on January 31st.

On a separate matter, Decherd said the Securities and Exchange Commission staff finished an investigation into circulation overstatements and plans no further enforcement action against the company. This month, a federal judge in Dallas denied class-action status to a shareholder lawsuit that claims executives defrauded investors by lying about newspaper sales.

The Dallas newspaper said in 2004 that it had overstated circulation.

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