Belo Hits Pause Button on N.O. TV

DALLAS Belo Corp. will wait at least a year before building a new headquarters for New Orleans’ WWL-TV station, the company told investors.

The Dallas-based media company announced plans to construct the new TV station July 25, about a month before hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The outlook for New Orleans remains uncertain, with population expected to reach only half of its pre-Katrina levels of 450,000.

With hurricane losses estimated at $7 million, Belo has also called off a $14.5 million acquisition of New Orleans UPN affiliate WUPL-TV until it completes an assessment of the future market.

In addition to market uncertainties, Belo senior vice president Dennis A. Williamson cited the current high cost of construction as a factor in delaying the new station facilities.

The station is projected to hit about 35 percent of its original revenue target, Williamson said.