Tribune Revs Sink 8% In 2013

Tribune Co. -- now in the midst of spinning off its publishing division as a stand-alone company -- reported that total revenues sank 11% from $871 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $773 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. For the full year, the company’s total revenues fell 8% from $3.15 billion in 2012 to $2.9 billion in 2013.
 
The declines were due to drops in both publishing and broadcasting revenues. Broadcasting revenues fell 8.8% from $303 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $267 million in 2013, while publishing division revenues fell 10.8% from $568 million to $507 million over the same period. For the full year, broadcasting revenues fell 11.2% from $1.14 billion in 2012 to $1.01 billion in 2013.
 
Tribune attributed the decreases to continuing declines in advertising revenues in the publishing division that were partially offset by a small gain in circulation revenues -- as well as declines in advertising, barter and copyright revenues on the broadcasting side, which were partially offset by an increase in retransmission revenues.

The decline in broadcasting ad revenues can be largely attributed to the absence of political advertising associated with the 2012 elections.
 
Earlier this month, the company announced that Jack Griffin, who previously served as CEO of Time Inc. and Meredith Corp., has been appointed CEO of Tribune Publishing Co., and will lead the newspaper operation’s planned spinoff from the rest of the old Tribune Co. His appointment is effective April 14; the spinoff is scheduled to be completed some time in mid-2014.
 
The newspaper spinoff is part of a major strategic shift by Tribune. The company is distancing itself from the newspaper business to focus on its local TV broadcasting operations, along with cable network WGN America, with a stake in the Food Network and online businesses, like Classified Ventures and CareerBuilder.
 
In February 2013, shortly after emerging from a tortuous four-year-long bankruptcy, Tribune put its newspapers on the auction block but later withdrew them, presumably because of a lack of attractive offers. The company acquired 19 stations from Local TV Holdings for $2.73 billion, which closed in December.

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