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Belo Profits Despite Tough Environment

Belo Corp. earned 26 cents per share from continuing operations in the second quarter of 2008, up from 23 cents in the second quarter of 2007.

(Earnings from continuing operations for the quarter exclude Belo’s newspaper businesses, which were spun off on Feb. 8, 2008.)

“Belo’s second quarter results were highlighted by excellent expense management as soft advertising conditions reflected a continuing weak economic environment,” said President and CEO Dunia A. Shive. “Combined local and national spot revenue declines in the second quarter improved marginally when compared to the first quarter of this year. We cannot predict the duration of the current economic downturn and are continuing to focus on cost reductions while considering the overall quality and competitive positions of our operating companies.”

Total revenues dropped 4.7 percent in quarter (versus the Q2 2007) and total spot ad revenue dropped 6.4 percent.

Second quarter 2008 political revenues were $3.6 million, up $1.4 million over the year-ago quarter.

Retransmission revenues rose to $7.6 million in the second quarter of 2008, a 36 percent increase over the second quarter of 2007. Belo expects about $30 million in retransmission fees this year, slightly more than the previous guidance of $28 million to $29 million.

Total station expenses decreased 7.4 percent in the second quarter of 2008 versus the same period last year due primarily to the freezing of open positions, staff reductions and other measures. As of June 30, the number of full-time equivalent employees at Belo television stations was 3 percent lower than at the end of 2007.

The company warned current economic conditions as well as the unusual nature of the third quarter, with its Olympics and political spending, make specific guidance difficult. Four of Belo’s 20 stations are Olympics-carrying NBC affiliates.