Monday, July 1, 2013

Trib Co. Boosts TV Stable as Newspaper Holdings Take 1Q Income Slam

The Chicago Tribune, the Tribune Co.'s flagship daily, reported today that the media conglomerate has acquired Cincinnati-based Local TV LLC's 19 television stations for $2.725 billion in cash, making Tribune Co. the country's biggest commercial television station owner.

With the transaction, the Tribune Co. boosted its tv stable to 42 stations, including WPIX-TV in New York City, KTLA-TV in Los Angeles and WGN-Channel 9 in Chicago, as well as  its WGN America cable station. The purchase adds seven Fox Television affiliates to the seven Fox affiliates already held by the Tribune Co., making it the country's largest owner of Fox TV affiliates, according to the Tribune article.

A New York Times article about the acquisition noted that the Tribune Co.had expanded into tv markets such as St. Louis, Denver and Cleveland. In all, the media conglomerate owns 14 stations in the nation's top 20 markets.

The six-year-old Local TV LLC, owned by the Oak Hill Capital Partners investment firm, had built up its holdings by purchasing stations from the New York Times and News Corp. Tribune Co. CEO Peter Ligouri praised his company's "transitional acquisition" that he boasted makes the Tribune Co. "the No. 1 local TV affiliate group in America." The transaction is expected to be completed sometime in 2013.

Not a moment too soon, as the Los Angeles Times reported today that, owing largely to sagging circulation and shrinking advertising by the Trib Co.'s eight newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant and Los Angeles Times, the conglomerate reported Q1 net income of $58.4 million, a stunning 41 percent decline over First Quarter 2012 figures. Ad revenues in the newspaper group plunged 9 percent compared to 2012 Q1 numbers. Retail ads, classified ads and digital advertising all were lower during the first three months of 2013 compared to the same period a year ago..

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