How Big Are Belo’s Profits?

For years the A. H. Belo Corporation, parent of The Dallas Morning News and Channel 8, has closely guarded its financial statements, handing them out to its few shareholders during the annual meeting, then taking them up at the meeting’s end. Because the company’s voting trust expired last summer, Belo now has more than 100 shareholders and this time shareholders got to keep their annual reports. The report gives an interesting insight into how profitably the Belo empire is operated.

Belo can’t fairly be compared with a pure newspaper chain nor with a pure broadcasting chain, because Belo is in both businesses. It owns The Dallas News and a string of seven suburban Dallas-Fort Worth newspapers and also owns WFAA-TV, WFAA-AM, KZEW-FM in Dallas and KFDM-TV in Beaumont.

When compared with the nation’s largest newspaper chains, Belo does better than most, probably because of high profits from Belo’s broadcasting properties. But when compared with several major broadcasting properties, Belo doesn’t fare so well, probably because of low earnings from its newspaper operations.

Here is a table which compares Belo’s net profits, as a percent of its 1976 sales, with the same data for other media chains. The most profitable are the broadcast dominated chains – topped by Capital-Cities Communications which operates both newspapers, such as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and radio stations, including WBAP-AM and KSCS-FM. Lin Broadcasting owns Fort Worth’s Channel 5 and Metromedia is buying KRLD-AM. The Times-Mirror Corporation owns the Dallas Times Herald.



Corporation 1976 Profit Margin

Capital-Cities

Communications… 16.8%

Lin Broadcasting… 16%

Gannett… 11.6%

Metromedia… 11 .3%

Harte-Hanks… 10.8%

A. H. Belo… 9%

Times-Mirror… 7%

Knight-Ridder… 7%

Washington Post… 6%

New York Times… 5%

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