Belo Calls for Spectrum Inventory
June 8, 2010
senior Belo executive called for an inventory of the nation’s airwaves before
reallocating TV spectrum for broadband. Speaking this week at Noble Financial’s
Sixth Annual Equity Conference, Belo Senior Vice President and Chief Financial
Officer Carey P. Hendrickson said the company agrees that a nationwide
broadband plan is in order, but not at the expense of broadcasting.
“We believe a full and complete inventory of all spectrum, and its current use,
should be undertaken before any reallocation of television spectrum is
determined,” Hendrickson said. “It is not possible to fully explain the
potential implications of the National Broadband Plan as many details are not
explicitly spelled out.”
The FCC’s National Broadband Plan proposal calls for the reclamation of 120 MHz
of the 300 MHz designated for broadcast television. Few broadcasters, if any,
are on board with the idea. Belo is one of the 12 companies that reacted to the
proposal by joining a consortium to push mobile DTV.
“Using existing licensed spectrum,” Hendrickson continued, “the service will
allow us to provide content to mobile devices, including on-demand video, local
and national news from print and electronic sources, as well as sports and
entertainment programming. We’re excited about the prospects of this new
venture and the possibility of further monetizing the investment we’ve made in
Belo and other broadcasters have struggled to generate return on their DTV
investments. The transition was especially hard on station finances during the
years broadcasters had to run both digital and analog feeds. That expense was followed
by an implosion of revenues during last year’s recession. Signs of recovery
emerged during the fourth quarter of 2009 and appear to be continuing into
2010, Hendrickson said.
“Based on current pacing trends, we believe our total spot revenue could
approach a mid-teen increase in the second quarter of 2010 compared to the
second quarter of 2009,” he said. “Belo’s automotive category was up 45 percent
in the first quarter of 2010 versus the first quarter of 2009 and we expect the
percentage increase in automotive to finish higher than that in the second
Belo has 20 TV stations and two regional cable news networks. First-quarter
profit was $13.5 million, up 52 percent from a year earlier. Shares of Belo (NYSE:
BLC) traded today at around $6.20, up 14 percent year-to-date.
-- Deborah D. McAdams
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