Stanton Cook, who molded Tribune Co. into a modern, diversified media corporation that broke with its conservative past by calling for the resignation of President Richard Nixon, bought a Major League Baseball team and established itself as the largest operator of independent TV stations in America, died Sept. 3 at his home near Chicago.
Rumor has it that News Corp — with a $2.5 billion cash kitty for acquisitions — may be mounting a new bid for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the six other Tribune newspapers.
Tribune Co. will hold its first annual meeting in seven years in Los Angeles next week and ask shareholders to approve changing the company’s name to Tribune Media Co.
Tribune Publishing has set Aug. 4 as the target date for spinning off from Tribune Co., according to sources familiar with the situation. Tribune Publishing is seeking to raise $350 million in conjunction with the planned spinoff.
Gains were driven by higher ad revenue as well as increases in retrans and political money.
Tribune CEO Peter Liguori is the network’s biggest affiliate owner, so the CW owners — CBS and Warner Bros. — have to take him seriously. And something will have to give based on the tough comments he made Thursday — the same day CW execs told advertisers, in their upfront presentation, that the network just attracted its largest audience in three years. Liguori says he’s “not pleased with where the CW is” adding that it “should not program to [young] people who don’t watch television.”
Declines in barter revenue and political advertising were only partially offset by gains in retransmission consent money.
Activist hedge fund Blue Harbor has taken a 2.5% stake in Tribune Co. and is urging its management to take steps including selling its real-estate holdings and the spectrum its broadcast properties own to boost the media company’s shares, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. WSJ subscribers can read the full story here.
Tribune Co.’s proposed spinoff of its newspapers will probably happen by midyear, allowing time to vet candidates to run a business that includes the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, people with knowledge of the matter say. Tribune is lining up a potential replacement should Eddy Hartenstein, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times and adviser to Tribune CEO Peter Liguori, decline to run the new company.
Former Belo media executive Kathy Clements will work with Lynda King and report to Larry Wert in overseeing the station group.
The Chicago-based group owner completes the final steps of its $2.73 billion transaction announced in July.
Sony Corp. agreed to sell its Gracenote audio-recognition software business to Tribune Co. for $170 million, part of the consumer-electronics maker’s effort to shed units as it focuses on fewer products. Tribune said it will combine Gracenote with its media-services division, which provides digital data on TV shows and movies.
The new company being created to publish The Chicago Tribune and other papers will have to pay rent and a dividend to its former parent.
Tribune Co. is moving forward with the spinoff of its newspaper unit by submitting preliminary paperwork to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Former CNN corporate communications chief Christa Robinson has been named the Tribune Co.’s chief communications officer, based in New York.
Broadcasting revenues for the quarter were $248 million, down from $264 million during the same period last year. Ad revenue fell by $9 million. The company cited weakness at WPIX New York, WDCW Washingon and at WGN Chicago, where sports advertising revenue declined due to lower baseball ratings. Retransmission fees were up for the quarter.
Chicago media blogger Robert Feder stands by his report that Peter Liguori demanded $100 million in cuts by Dec. 1.
Broadcasting revenues for the quarter were $260 million, down from $327 million during the same period last year. Ad revenue fell by $17 million, or 7%. The company cited weakness at WPIX New York and at WGN Chicago, where sports advertising revenue declined in lockstep with the fortunes of Chicago’s baseball teams. Retransmission fees were the bright spot for broadcasting, up 15% for the quarter.
David and Charles no longer consider investing in the Tribune’s publications as “economically viable.”
Former Tribune exec Wilson’s Dreamcatcher Broadcasting is buying WNEP Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton, Pa., and WTKR-WGNT Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va., The deal is necessitated by Tribune’s need to spin off the recently purchased stations because it owns newspapers in those markets. It will operate them, however, under shared services agreements.
Ken Doctor speculates that Tribune’s decision to split its TV and newspaper businesses will lead to a sale of the papers. “Expect that the papers will still be sold. They may go as a whole of individually, but they’ll go, and they may go before a spin-off is spun,” Doctor writes. “The plan further certifies that by this time next year the Tribune Co. will be a polished jewel of a broadcast/video company.”
Tribune’s long-awaited decision to spin off its newspaper holdings and bet squarely on television pounds a final nail in the coffin of the rationale underlying the Times Mirror-Tribune merger back in 2000. But the synergies between newspapers and TV, in hindsight, weren’t as advantageous as anticipated.
The new Tribune Publishing Co. will comprise the newspaper and other print holdings, while Tribune Co. will consist of the broadcasting stations, cable, digital, production and other interests.
Gannett and the Tribune Co. have recently purchased groups of TV stations in locations where political advertising can be highly lucrative.
Tribune Co.’s $2.7 billion deal to buy 19 Local TV LLC stations sets the stage for a major battle over the retransmission fees cable and satellite operators pay to carry stations. Tribune CEO Peter Liguori opened a new front yesterday, making it known the company will be gunning for bigger licensing fees for its growing stable of network affiliates.
With the acquisition of Local TV’s 19 stations in 16 markets, Tribune’s broadcast portfolio will swell from 23 to 42 stations — 14 CW affiliates, 14 Fox affiliates, five CBS affiliates, three ABC affiliates, two NBC affiliates and four independents.
The drop is attributed to declines in advertising partially offset by an increase in retransmission consent and carriage fees. The largest revenue declines were at national cable channel WGN America and WPIX New York. The Chicago-based media company, which emerged from a four-year stay in Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 31, is required to release its financial statements under the terms of its reorganization agreement.
The billionaire left a nasty tax mess behind for Tribune, which recently exited Chapter 11 proceedings.
The IRS and local tax authorities are likely seek more than half a billion dollars from Tribune Co. in regard to the sales of the Chicago Cubs baseball team and Long Island, N.Y., newspaper Newsday under former CEO Sam Zell.
The company’s broadcasting division, which includes WGN Chicago that’s carried on many cable services, generated an operating profit of $366.5 million last year, up 10% from $332 million in 2011. Broadcasting revenue edged up 4% last year to $1.14 billion.
That was quick. Tribune Co.’s new topper Peter Liguori isdrawing on his strengths as a TV programmer and marketer to energize Tribune’s 23 major-market TV stations and its WGN America cable channel.
Tribune Co. has tapped Dana Zimmer at Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit to be its president of distribution. Zimmer will oversee relationships between Tribune’s television properties and pay-TV distributors including cable operators and satellite broadcasters. Tribune owns 23 stations and the national cable network WGN America.
Billionarie Industrialists Charles and David Koch and their company Koch Industries are exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Co.’s eight regional newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant.
In an effort to kick-start original television production, Tribune Co. has hired Matt Cherniss, a former Fox and Warner Bros. executive, as president of WGN America and head of a newly formed Tribune Studios.
The list of potential buyers for Tribune Co. newspapers is growing, with a Chicago-based private equity investor saying that he wants to see the company’s books. His name is Lee Mitchell, and while he’s not as well known as Rupert Murdoch, the conservative Koch brothers or others in the Tribune mix, his background could make him a contender.
Charles and David Koch, two of the world’s richest men, are interested in Tribune’s newspaper assets, which include the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, according to sources familiar with situation.
Tribune Co. is seeking a single buyer for all of its newspapers, said two people with knowledge of the process. Doing a single transaction would simplify the process for Tribune, letting it focus on its more lucrative television business. Freedom Communications Inc. is a potential buyer of the whole chain.
Tribune Co has hired investment bankers Evercore and J.P. Morgan to sell off its newspaper unit, which includes the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, according to a person familiar with the situation. A move to sell the newspapers has been widely expected since Tribune emerged from a four-year bankruptcy process late last year.
Sources say Wert, president and general manager of NBC-owned WMAQ Chicago, could be on the verge of taking a top-level broadcasting job with Chicago-based Tribune Co., which late last year emerged from a lengthy bankruptcy.