Even including political, spot revenues fell 11% in Q4 for Belo, with total revenues down 8.8% as Internet and retrans revenues partially countered the spot decline. CEO Dunia Shive says Q1 pacings are looking a lot like Q4, when local and national were each down 26%.
"Given the continued weak economic environment, it is extremely difficult to project where advertising revenues will finish for the first quarter. Currently, first quarter local and national spot pacing trends are similar to our experience in the fourth quarter of 2008,” Shive told analysts in her quarterly conference call. Pressed a bit for some detail, she said that January was a little bit better than December, “but not demonstrably different.”
"For full year 2009, we expect retransmission and Internet revenues to continue to grow double digits. Combined station and corporate operating expenses are projected to be lower in 2009. Capital expenditures for 2009 are projected to not exceed $12 million, which is down from $25.4 million in 2008,” Shive said.
For Q4, total revenues declined 8.8% to $198.9 million. Total spot revenue, including political, declined 11%. Excluding political, both local spot and national spot declined 26%. The Q4 revenue decline was blamed primarily on the auto sector, down 37%. The quarter brought in $35.9 million in political revenues.
Meanwhile, ad revenues associated with Belo’s websites increased 5.1% to the quarter and, for the first time, surpassed $30 million for the full year. Retransmission consent revenues rose 30% for the quarter and totaled $33.1 million for all of 2008.