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Belo: The Good, The Bad and the Fugly

You've got to save money to make money: Belo bossman Robert Decherd
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As prophesied, that Belo Corp. press release concerning its first-quarter earnings came out this morning, and, hey, things are looking good...um...ish. Goodish. Or maybe esque. Or maybe not. Profit dropped 10 percent, after all. Belo's reporting that net earnings fell to $15.5 million, about 15 cents per share. And over on the TV side of things, Belo's reporting that revenue increased 2.1 percent in the first quarter, and that their TV-related Web sites are making some nice dough: $5.2 million during the first three months of 2007, up from $4 million in the first quarter of 2006. But expenses were up too, meaning the earnings increase on the TV side is "essentially flat."

Over on the newspaper side, well, that's a different story. Reads the release: "Newspaper Group total revenue decreased 11 percent in the first quarter of 2007, or approximately 9.3 percent after adjusting to exclude the extra Sunday in the first quarter of 2006." Goddamned extra Sundays, always messing things up.

And it looks even worse when you factor in the fact the newspaper group's ad revenues increased in the first quarter of 2006. One reason for decrease: "the Southern California housing market." D'uh.

Last line of the press release, courtesy Belo boss Bob Decherd: "We should be able to identify process improvements and other savings that will reduce the expense base of the Company." Other savings? Don't like the sound of that. Not one bit.

And, don't forget, on Monday we get the official circulation numbers -- down five percent, at least. But there's always the Interwebs. --Robert Wilonsky

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