Despite it being an off-year for elections, Belo Corporation’s TV division grew revenues 0.8% in 2007, although Q4 revenues were, predictably, down, but only 2.4%. Belo gave a preliminary report on its 2007 results yesterday as management met with investors in New York to discuss the coming split of Belo into separate public TV and newspaper companies.
Spot revenues were down for the Belo TV group – down 1.1% for the year and 5% in Q4 – but other revenue sources made up for that. Ad revenues for the TV group’s websites rose 41% in 2007 and 43% in Q4. Retransmission consent revenues, which account for 3% of total TV revenues, totaled 22 million in 2007 – a figure that Dunia Shive, who’ll be CEO of the post-split TV company, said is expected to grow. The company is currently in negotiations with cable giant Comcast on a new retrans agreement. She told the gathering that digital multicasting represents another long-term growth opportunity for the company.
What about 2008? Shive said the TV group is currently pacing flat with Q1 of last year, noting that Belo had the Super Bowl on five CBS affiliates last year versus one Fox affiliate this year. Also, most political revenue isn’t expected until the second half.
“As for full year 2008 guidance, we expect total revenues to be up in the mid-to-high single digits depending on the strength of political in our markets. We expect Internet revenue growth to be less than the rate experienced in 2007 but still to be up strong double-digits. We expect operating expense to be up in the mid-single digits,” Shive said.